My New Favorite Fall Salad

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Sometimes there’s a salad that you like, but don’t love, and then you change a few things about it and suddenly it’s your new favorite salad. That’s what happened with this salad, a familiar combination of apples and fennel and walnuts and golden raisins and arugula. It’s one you can probably find in my archives and that recipe in my archives is good but not great. This one is great. What’s the difference?

The difference is a clove of garlic grated on a microplane into the dressing. The garlic somehow elevates this salad from the realm of “possible health food” into something that feels slightly naughty. Also, in this version, I shave the Parmesan with a vegetable peeler.

Let me walk you through it:

Start by making the dressing. In a jar, spoon in some Dijon mustard, squeeze in the juice of a lemon, pour in a tablespoon or two of white wine vinegar, grate in a clove of garlic using a microplane grater, add a pinch of salt, a grind or two of pepper, and about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of olive oil. Put the lid on the jar and shake like crazy. Then taste: does it need more vinegar? More salt? Is it too bracing? Add more oil. Then set aside to allow the garlic to infuse while you make the rest of the salad.

It helps if you enlist your friend Diana:

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Have Diana slice fennel into thin slices only, you realize that you don’t have fennel so you sub in celery (when I made this the first time, this new good version on Friday night, I had fennel; on Saturday it was celery); then slice an apple into thin slices. Add a few handfuls of arugula, walnuts that you toast until fragrant in a little skillet, and a sprinkling of golden raisins. Shake your dressing again, drizzle a few spoonfuls on, toss all around and taste to see if it needs more.

Then, just before serving, use a vegetable peeler to peel large slivers of Parmesan into the salad. Toss those in and then, once in the bowls, shave a few right on top. Grind on some pepper.

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This is really good stuff; a salad I’ll be making again and again until people get sick of it. But who could get sick of it? One garlic clove, and a few slivers of Parmesan, and you’re in salad heaven.

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9 comments

  1. Try this one, also fabulous for fall. Put greens in bowls. I used baby lettuces but equally good with spinach and probably arugula. Quarter pears, and slice each quarter into thin slices. Put on lettuce (for two people I use one pear so each gets half). Saute thinly sliced fennel in a generous amount of olive oil until starting to caramelize like onions, about ten minutes or so. Sprinkle with lemon pepper about two minutes in, when it starts to become translucent. Add to lettuce (this will become in effect part of your dressing). Chop baked toasted almonds and add to lettuce (get at Whole Foods). Cut Drunken Goat cheese (Whole Foods) into small pieces, add to lettuce. Now the special ingredient – cut crystalized ginger – get a good one, I use one I get from a candy store in NY (Myzels) that comes from Europe – and cut into very small cubes, add to lettuce. Squeeze a cara cara or navel orange on top of each bowl, then cut the orange into thin slices and add on top. Serve as is, and each person tosses their own salad. It is delicious!

  2. I totally forgot about golden raisins!! I have been paying too much attention to dried mango and no other fruit(s). Also, I love any salad with apples in it, so must try this one.

  3. Oooh this does sound like a great combo! I love adding fresh toasted nuts to a salad and apples and fennel are just perfect together.

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