Kale, Farro, and Fennel Salad

I wasn’t quite sure about this recipe when I saw it. It’s from Heidi Swanson, whose ideas are always glorious, but fennel is not a favorite of mine. I have tried to like it, really, but in big chunks it just has too much anise flavor for me. This recipe, however, hits the jackpot, and I am so glad I made it. I will probably buy fennel every week now (or at least whenever I can find it at the farmer’s market). The secret is to slice it very, very thin. Then you get the majestic crunch and a hint of juicy flavor without being overwhelmed. Magic.

I made this salad for a Saturday lunch (to combat the never-ending stream of cakes coming out my kitchen…it has definitely been a cake summer!), and it’s very quick and easy to put together. These flavors together are just inspired. The first step is to make the dressing, which is every salad’s dream. With scallions, lemon, and avocado, you can’t go wrong. The avocado makes it so wonderfully creamy.

Once you’ve got that blended, chop your kale and let it marinate in the dressing while you prep the rest of the vegetables. I have to say, my favorite thing about kale salads is just that: sitting in dressing for a while won’t hurt them a bit, and it actually improves them. There’s nothing sadder than an already dressed salad that doesn’t get finished at dinner: into the trash it goes. For people who like to cook in advance and thrive on leftovers (definitely me!), kale salad is a huge winner.

While the kale is marinating, you can cook your farro. I am excited to try wheat berries next time, since they are my favorite and nothing can beat their nutty crunch (for me, at least!) If you are gluten free, you can easily substitute your favorite bean for the grain.

And finally, you can slice your fennel and carrots. For the paper-thin cut you want, a mandoline is the best tool. Thankfully, we have one (thank you, Amanda Lynn!)

Everything goes together in your bowl, and your lunch is ready! I hope you enjoy it as much I did.

Kale, Farro, and Fennel Salad
Recipe slightly adapted from Heidi Swanson

For the Dressing:
2 scallions (or stalks of green garlic), chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 c olive oil
2 Tbsp avocado
1 tsp honey
freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Salad:
1 bunch of kale, destemmed, chopped
1 c cooked farro or wheat berries
4-5  carrots, sliced very thin
1 small bulb of fennel, sliced paper thin
1 avocado, cut into small cubes
a handful of almond slices or pumpkin seeds

-Puree the green garlic, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, avocado, honey, and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Add more salt, honey, or lemon juice to taste.
– Combine the kale with half of the dressing in a large bowl and mix well. Let it marinate while you finish the other vegetables.
-Add the farro, carrots, and fennel, and the rest of the dressing. Add the avocados and almonds or pumpkin seeds and toss gently, until the dressing is well incorporated into the salad.

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