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There was this really cool restaurant that I worked when I first started going to culinary school. It was a cool little bistro of a place and it was the first kitchen that showed me the growing farm-to-table trend taking over the culinary scene. I loved this job and all the food that was made there. I particularly loved the salad I’m about to show you. With a few different changes I’ve made, this is essentially the same salad they made at this restaurant. I love the light and freshness of this arugula fennel and pear salad but the flavors are cleansing to your palate and soul. Let me dive into why this Arugula Fennel and Pear Salad is the next salad you need to make!
I like the combo of spinach and arugula in salads because they tend to balance each other really well. They’re both delicate leaves but the unique flavors they carry are so different from each other. If you want to be super adventurous, use all arugula for this salad (like the original) and you’ll have a salad that packs a bit more of a punch than this mix. It is wonderful though.
I really appreciate pesto being in this salad! It’s one thing to have nuts within the salad but when you make pesto, it gives the salad a nice richness and fattiness that would otherwise be missing. The pesto with the fennel is a fantastic combo and I wish I could take the credit for thinking it up.
The pear vinaigrette, in my humble opinion, is the thing that rounds out this salad superbly! It’s subtly sweet, it’s refreshing, it’s everything I want a vinaigrette to be. I love this salad dressing so much and it really ties this whole salad together so well. The key to making this vinaigrette is to boil the pears to get them soft and use that as the base. I like to cover my pears with a cartouche to help keep them submerged.
What’s a Cartouche?
A cartouche is a piece of parchment paper cut into a square with a vent hole in the middle. The purpose of a cartouche is to weigh down the items being cooked in the pot by allowing water to seep through the vent hole. This allows the pears to be evenly cooked in the water. Here is an easy step by step to creating a cartouche at home!
In the original salad, we had toasted almonds tossed into the salad. I really wanted to make this salad my own so made them into sweet chili almonds and I think that these flavors still paired really well with the rest of what was going on in this dish. Combining chile powder and ground cinnamon I think really warms up the dish when everything else is so light to the taste; this adds another dimension to break it up and entertain your taste buds for longer.
So I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s because I’m growing a deeper appreciation for goat cheese but I really felt like this salad could truly benefit from the earthy and tangy tones that are found in goat cheese. It’s soft and creamy which counter balances the crunchy texture from the fennel and nuts and would coat the tongue nicely.
The next time you are in need of a new salad, give this one a try! This recipe makes enough for two so have some salad with some girlfriends or have it as an appetizer as part of a dinner date. You can thank me later (wink wink). As you will see, there is a bit of effort involved in making the pesto and vinaigrette but it is totally worth it! If you want, you can buy some good pesto at the store to save you a step.
Enjoy this salad. I wish I could take all the credit for it but a chef, way more talented than I, thought up this beauty and I want to share it with you all!
A super refreshing and gluten free Arugula, Fennel and Pear salad is all you need to for a light and vegetarian lunch. Perfectly paired with candied chile almonds and goat cheese.
- 1 ounce basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons almonds toasted
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- To taste salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 each pears peeled and quartered
- 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- To taste salt and pepper
- 4 ounces arugula and spinach
- 1/2 bulb fennel thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons goat cheese
- 1 pear largely shredded
Toast almonds in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes or until golden brown, let cool. Combine pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until a thick paste forms. Thin with a bit more olive oil until viscous.
Combine nuts, spices and sugar together with a drizzle of olive oil and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Boil pears in some water with a splash of lemon juice until soft. Let cool to room temperature.
In a food processor or blender, combine pears, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Add olive oil in a steady stream with the base spinning at medium speed until all of the oil is added. An emulsified vinaigrette will be creamy and uniformed looking.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together pesto and fennel until evenly coated.
Add lettuces, some spiced nuts, cheese and 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette to the salad. Toss together and plate.
Garnish with goat cheese and remainder of the spiced nuts.