Gone are the days of throwing together a wilted little side salad or last-minute garnish to go with a meal. And may I just say, yay! Because when it comes to creating delicious, beautiful, nutritious salads that satisfy all those taste buds, the limits are truly endless. I love the creativity that comes with building a salad and knowing that every single bite is going to be a little bit different. There are limitless options for flavors, textures, and keeping things interesting. I genuinely believe that if you really had to or wanted to, you could literally eat a different salad at every meal, every single day of your life, and that’s the kind of variety I’m down with. This Shaved Fennel and Arugula Salad with a Creamy Date-Dijon Vinaigrette is the perfect example.
With this salad, bright and crunchy raw fennel, crispy and salty toasted walnuts, sweet Bosc pear, and sharp, rich Parmigiano-Reggiano come together and rest upon a fresh and fluffy bed of spicy arugula. As if this combo isn’t already delicious enough, the flavors and textures are intensified with a generous topping of tangy pomegranate seeds, fresh aromatic mint leaves, feathery fennel fronds, and a Creamy Date-Dijon Vinaigrette made with earthy olive oil, sweet and sticky dates, tangy mustard, and spicy garlic.
Pro tip: I highly recommend doubling up this dressing recipe so you have extra on deck for more meals throughout your week. It’s also great on grilled chicken, grain bowls, and as a spread on sandwiches.
Many people don’t know that the entire fennel plant is absolutely delicious and so versatile. In many recipes, the bulb tends to get all of the attention, but in this salad, we’re showing both the bulb and the fronds lots of love. Not only do the fronds provide a lovely emerald green garnish, but they also add a unique and earthy flavor. Treat them as you would fresh herbs, like parsley or dill. Also, don’t discard those delicious, crunchy fennel stalks!
Here’s a quick and easy recipe, because food waste is no bueno. Cut the stalks into thirds, toss in some olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, and roast them in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes to have a caramelized, savory snack to munch on throughout the week (if they last that long).
Sometimes digging into a big, fresh, vibrant salad makes for the absolute perfect lunch or dinner. Get creative and have fun with your salad creations, starting with this Shaved Fennel and Arugula Salad with a Creamy Date-Dijon Vinaigrette!
Shaved Fennel and Arugula Salad with a Creamy Date-Dijon Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield (Salad): 4 Servings
Yield (Dressing): ½ cup
For the Salad:
1 fennel bulb*, plus fronds
½ cup raw walnuts, toasted (method below)
½ teaspoon olive oil
8 unpacked cups arugula
1 ripe Bosc pear, very thinly sliced*
⅔ cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano*
¼ cup whole fresh mint leaves, washed and dried
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
*Useful Tools for Shaving/Slicing:
Class Mandoline Slicer
Handheld Mandoline Slicer
Multi-Sided Cheese Grater
Wide Vegetable Peeler
For the Dressing:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Prep the fennel: Trim the base of the fennel bulb and cut into quarters. Holding each quarter in your hand, carefully run it lengthwise along your tool of choice until it becomes difficult to hold. Place aside.
2. Toast the nuts: Add ½ teaspoon olive oil, walnuts, and a sprinkle of kosher or flaky salt to a small sauté pan. Bring to medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
3. Transfer the toasted walnuts to a cutting board and allow to cool for two minutes. Roughly chop and place aside.
1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a mason jar and store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Plate Your Salad:
1. In a shallow bowl or large round or oval dish, distribute your arugula base.
2. Top with shaved fennel, sliced pear, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mint leaves.
3. If dressing to serve, begin with just a light drizzle of Creamy-Date Dijon Vinaigrette.
4. Sprinkle the toasted nuts and pomegranate seeds.
5. Finally, finish your plating by gently placing the fennel fronds atop your salad.
6. Add the remaining dressing to a mason jar or small serving bowl with a serving spoon, and place beside your salad for serving.
Food Styling & Photography by Christine Fiorentino