So this all started when I tried a bottled pear vinaigrette from the grocery store, and thought “I can do this better than you can, insert name here.” Guess what, I was totally right. Not claiming to be the superior salad dressing maker over those big brands because anyone who gets to use fresh ingredients has a leg up and will probably win. But I definately won.
This salad is so light, crisp, and refreshing. If you want something warm and hearty, I have a couple of things up my sleeve, but this just isn’t it. This is one of those salads you eat after doing pilates for any hour, before you go out on the town, while trying to squeeze into your skinny jeans. But that being said, if that’s what you’re looking for, this is your salad. The dressing is so creamy and rich, you won’t even remember you’re being healthy in your food trance. I have motivation to eat this salad because of a dress like this that I have to wear in a few months (this isn’t thee dress, but the runner up).
Ok, I have a huge warning for you. This dressing contains cilantro. Please read this or you may hate me for adding it to this recipe. You are either one of two people; those who adore cilantro, or those who think it tastes like a hot soapy mess. Believe it or not, this trait is genetic. There is no developing a palate when it comes to cilantro, you either like or you don’t…for life. The gene that codes for your love interest in cilantro is next to a bunch of odor detecting genes. Never tried cilantro before? Next time you’re at the grocery store, get a big whiff of it. If it smells herby and great, roll with it. If it smells soapy and repelling to you, then run fast. You obviously know which one of these people I am. That being said, if you don’t like cilantro, then please don’t add it to this dressing. You will be so offended that you will never read my blog again.
I’ve rambled enough so lets get down to business.
We’re going to break out our blender again today. Our biggest task includes giving our pear, cilantro and garlic clove a rough chop before going into the blender. Something like this is just fine.
Know a little secret to speed up your herb chopping? My mother taught me this a long time ago. Roll up your herbs in a compact ball before putting your chop through them. It cuts down the chopping time by at least a third. Oh yeah, try and get the majority of the stems out if you can.
And you remember our discussion on how rasps (also known as a microplane) are the best tool in the world for zesting citrus and prepping ginger? Remember to peel the skin off of the ginger with a spoon before grating it with the rasp. Also make sure to save your lemon for the juice after grating the zest.
Were almost done with the dressing, can you believe it? Just add in the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, olive oil and poppy seeds.
Do we have everything in there? Don’t ask me, I thought you were paying attention! Blend for about a minute or until you know all of the cilantro has been incorporated (or not for our cilantro despisers).
Yum, try it. Is that not delicious? Go ahead and put a sautee pan on the stove top on medium heat. Add nothing but your walnuts. We are going to toast these for a few minutes until they are brown and fragrant. Toss them often in the pan to make sure they don’t burn. This may take 5-10 minutes. Lets look at the difference in color.
It is time to tackle the fennel. What do you know about fennel? In my opinion, it is one of the most underused veggies in household cooking. It is light, crisp, and refreshing when eaten raw. In this state, it should be sliced very thin-think shaved slices. Stay away from large chunks because these can be very unappetizing. However, when this root is cook, it becomes very sweet and aromatic as its anise-like flavor comes out (kind of like licorice).
So what do we do with this thing?
Now you guys are experts on fennel. I feel like you should receive some certification for going through that. Now assemble the rest of your veggies on the plate.
Now, pour on your beautiful dressing that you made from scratch with your own two hands.
Please, do not wait for me. Dig in, you deserve it.
Forgot you were eating something healthy? I thought so.
1 pear pitted and chopped roughly
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard
1 clove of garlic
1 inch ginger
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped cilantro (optional, see notes)
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
6 once bag of spinach
1 fennel bulb shaved
1 cup of walnuts
Roughly chop the pear, cilantro, and garlic clove, and place in a blender. With a spoon, peel the skin off of the ginger. With a rasp, grate the ginger and zest the lemon. Add to the blender. Also add the remaining salad dressing ingredients to the blender and blend on high for one minute, or until all of the cilantro is incorporated. Set aside. Pour the walnuts into a sautee pan with nothing else, and toast on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Toss frequently so the walnuts do not burn. When browned and fragrant, remove form heat and set aside. Peel the fennel and chop both avocados. Arrange the spinach, avocado, fennel, and walnuts in a bowl and toss with the salad dressing. Enjoy.