Monday, December 26, 2011

Arugula, Fennel, and Cheese Salad

I find green salads to be troubling in the winter.  On the one hand, I know I need to eat my daily dose of greens, but the last thing I'm craving in cold weather is uncooked, cold vegetables.  The trick to winter salads is to use greens and veggies with enough body to stand up to that cold weather, even when raw.  The peppery bite of arugula and the licorice hints of raw fennel are two such veggies, hence this winter salad.  You can do most of your prep work in advance, such as whisking together the dressing, and slicing the veggies, but combine all of the separate components just before serving. 

  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vegan sugar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 8 cups trimmed arugula
  • 1/2 cup shaved vegan cheese*
1. Whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

2. Combine the fennel and red onion in a large bowl, and drizzle with the lemon juice mixture, tossing to coat.

3. Arrange 1 cup arugula on each of 8 salad plates.  Top each serving with about 3/4 cup fennel mixture and 1 tablespoon of the shaved cheese.

Try serving with a rice pilaf and warm bread rolls to add a little warmth to your winter plate.

*You need a vegan cheese that shaves well with a vegetable peeler, and for that, I recommend Sheese.  Tonight I used their Strong Cheddar flavor, but you can try this salad with any of their varieties shaved on top.  With a similar texture to a hard aged cheese like Romano or Parmesan, Sheese is the perfect candidate for this application.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 cup arugula, 3/4 cup fennel mixture, 1 tablespoon cheese), Calories 62 

Tasting Notes:
This salad actually exceeded my expectations.  The contrast between the sweet fennel and bite of the red onion tasted great.  The dressing, which I worried would be too tart, was mellowed by the sugar.  The creaminess of the cheese was also a great foil for the peppery arugula.  Very refreshing and pleasing overall.  Consider sprinkling with chopped nuts to amp it up just a bit.


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