Last weekend when I was planning what to make for the blog this week, I realized I had been making and sharing a lot of beige food recently – muffins, oatmeal squares, ice cream cake… I thought it was high time for some colourful, healthy recipes to work themselves into the flow, and I decided to start with this beautiful salad.
Summer has miraculously burst into full bloom here in Calgary over the past few weeks, and with warmer weather always comes cravings for cool, fresh, healthy foods – at least for me. Obviously there is still room in my life for beige baked things and starchy carbs, but most nights all I want is something grilled and a fresh salad or other vegetable concoction on the side. Case in point: this salad was delicious served alongside some grilled chicken apple sausages, and had the added bonus of making me feel better about heading to DQ after dinner for a Buster Bar.
I can’t take credit for the recipe, as I’ve adapted it (only slightly) from The Italian Way: Cooking with the DeLucas. DeLuca’s is an Italian specialty food store in Winnipeg, Manitoba, established in 1968. My aunt bought me this cookbook for my bridal shower 3 years ago (along with a beautiful hand-crank pasta maker – thanks Aunt Marg!), and it’s full of traditional Italian recipes that make my mouth water. There’s a recipe for Ricotta Cake with Limoncello Liqueur that I have my eye on, so don’t be surprised if that pops up here sometime soon.
But back to the salad. It is the epitome of light, fresh summer food, and is loaded with different flavours, colours and textures. The downfall of salads is generally that they’re boring or one-note, a problem from which this salad does not suffer. The apples, celery, fennel and peppers are juicy and crunchy, while the pine nuts are slightly soft and lend a toasty, nutty flavour. If you can’t find pine nuts, toasted slivered almonds work as well.
The dressing, made with apple juice and fresh lemons, complements the apples and the other ingredients perfectly. From the original recipe, I’ve added a spoonful of grainy mustard because I always add it to my salad dressings and I saw no reason to make an exception. I recommend dressing the salad just before you serve it, as you don’t want the greens to wilt.
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons apple juice
- 1 teaspoon grainy (Dijon) mustard
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 large romaine heart, torn into small pieces
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (reserve fronds for garnish, if you like)
- 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced (I used 1 orange and 1 yellow)
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 1 large Golden Delicious apple, cored and cut into thin wedges
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake all dressing ingredients together. Taste as adjust seasoning as necessary.
- Place romaine on a large plate or platter, followed by the fennel, peppers, celery, apple, and pine nuts. Just before serving, drizzle the dressing overtop and toss to combine. You may not need all the dressing depending on how well dressed you like your salads (I use a light hand). Garnish with reserved fennel fronds (if using) and serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from The Italian Way: Cooking with the DeLucas