By Katie Newell
This arugula, fennel and goat cheese salad is without a doubt one of my absolute favorite spring things to put in my mouth. Creamy goat cheese, peppery arugula, shaved fennel, diced avocado, mandarin oranges, and mercona almonds mingle together in a poppyseed vinaigrette to create a flavor explosion that is sure to make your taste buds dance! If you have a backyard garden and you’re not growing your own arugula, you really should give it a try. The speed at which it grows is crazy fast. So fast, in fact, that I’ve enjoyed this salad for lunch and/or dinner every day for the last week. I’m not kidding, I’m addicted.
Now, if I’m going to be brutally honest with you, I will have to admit that neither of my girls care much for raw arugula. Kale, yup. Spinach, of course. Plain old romaine lettuce, sure. Arugula, not so much. Yet. However, in an attempt to practice what I preach, I keep serving it up. Studies repeatedly show that young children need 10 – 15 exposures to a new food before they develop a taste for it. When I serve this salad at dinner, I keep putting three little arugula leaves on each plate and then go heavy on the goodies. So far, they obligue and try the one bite we ask them to. They then proclaim they aren’t “old enough to like arugula yet”, ignore the remaining two leaves, and move on to clean their plates of everything else. Works for me!
The next time you head to the farmers market, I highly suggest you pick up a bunch of arugula and a bulb of fennel. Not only does this salad taste amazing, it is a nutrient powerhouse as well. Thanks to a phytonutrient called anethole, fennel is one of the strongest natural anti-inflammatories available. The anethole acts as a TNF-blocker, a powerful drug that fights inflammation, cancer, and promotes a healthy immune system. Adding both fennel and arugula to your diet is also a great way to naturally detoxify your body, helping to shed your winter sludge, and get you energized for a fun-filled summer! Enjoy!
Arugula, Fennel and Goat Cheese Salad
For the salad:
1 bunch arugula, about 8 cups lightly packed
½ of a medium fennel bulb
11 oz can mandarin oranges (preferably packed in juice, not syrup)
1 ripe avocado
¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
¼ cup mercona almonds
For the vinaigrette:
1 small lemon, zest and juice (about 1½ tbsp)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp blue poppyseeds
½ tsp organic cane sugar
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
Instructions (10 minutes, all active):
Prepare your vinaigrette: Whisk together all ingredients listed under “for the vinaigrette”. Set aside.
Prepare your salad: Core and thinly slice ½ of a fennel bulb. (We use our mandolin; a sharp knife would also work.) Drain one can mandarin oranges. Just before serving, dice one avocado.
Pulling it all together. Toss arugula and fennel with vinaigrette according to your preference. (You may not need it all.) Arrange dressed arugula and fennel onto individual serving plates. Garnish with mandarin oranges, avocado, goat cheese, and almonds. Serve and enjoy!
Notes: Garnishing the serving plates individually keeps all the “goodies” from sinking to the bottom of the serving bowl, an easy way to up the eye appeal of your salad. This arugula, fennel and goat cheese salad is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian. Those sensitive to nuts can simply omit the almonds. If mercona almonds are unavailable, slivered almonds make a suitable substitute. Feel free to use roasted beets in place of the oranges and/or gargonzola cheese in place of the goat. Serves four.
P.S– I am excited to announce that the winner of the Two Chicks from the Sticks: Back Home Baking cookbook was comment number 5, as picked by random.org. I will be emailing you shortly! Congrats Candace W!!!