People often think salads must include lettuce, but this is a favorite of mine for plated events in the spring or fall.
At events, the salads are often placed on the table prior to the guests sitting down. Salads might sit for as long as 10 minutes before all of the guests arrive, and the beauty of using fennel and apples in this situation is that they do not wilt—or at least not to the extent that leaf lettuces do.
The combination of fresh fruit and vegetables is crisp and refreshing, especially when tossed with a light vinaigrette. I like the different textures of the ingredients, and the subtle anise flavor of the fennel.
Some readers may remember the Winter Salad recipe I posted in January 2012, which has the same basic ingredients (fennel and apples) as this one, but features pomegranate seeds (which are in season in winter) instead of grapefruit sections.
Spring Salad with Apples, Fennel, and Grapefruit
Allow 30 minutes total prep time
4 of your favorite apples (currently Lady Alice apples are my favorite here in the Northwest)
2 fennel bulbs (fronds and dark green stalks removed)
2 endive bulbs, sliced (optional)
Watercress leaves, for garnish
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice (see below)
2 tablespoons grapefruit zest
¼ cup champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
½ teaspoon mustard (I prefer Dijon or whole grain)
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the grapefruit with a sharp knife, cutting off the outer membrane with the peel (the pink flesh should be exposed). Then cut out the individual sections with a chef knife as I do—or with a paring knife, as shown in this link, on a website that explains how to do this in detail (with lots of photographs).
Put grapefruit sections in a bowl. Then squeeze the remaining juice out of the grapefruit; use some of it in the vinaigrette and save the rest for a later use—or pour it into a glass and drink it while you cook.
Mix together the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
Wash apples and fennel bulbs. Quarter and core the apples, leaving the skin on, then thinly slice. Halve and core the fennel bulbs, then thinly slice against the grain.
Immediately after slicing the apples, fennel, and (optional) endive, add to the grapefruit sections, then toss with the vinaigrette to prevent browning.
Tina’s Tip: I say that endive is optional because it’s not always available.
Serve salad piled high on a platter or in a bowl, and garnish with watercress leaves (available at specialty produce markets or some Whole Foods stores). If you can’t find (or don’t like) watercress, play around with other options for a garnish—maybe try orange peel twists, edible flowers, or even dehydrated fruit crisps.