I am moving on to the salad phase of our cooking, one because I love spring and see it as a time to lighten up and two, because the majority of my day to day diet is a tasty salad…and it is a part of pretty much every dinner party we do. I try to change them up though, and even when the base ingredients are the same, add a different ingredient here and there to change the flavor profile and compliment the dinner we are serving.
A few weeks ago when my family was in town we prepared mussels with fennel, tomato and chorizo. It made sense that our salad would incorporate some of these same flavors. I opted for a Greek style salad, but instead of an oregano heavy dressing, we did a fennel and tarragon dressing, giving a good anise kick with creamy feta and crunchy veggies.
That is really the fun part of salad, there isn’t any rhyme or reason to it. If you have it in the refrigerator…or even better, your garden, throw it in there. Nine times out of ten, the fresh flavors will marry well with each ingredient highlighting the other.
Greek Style Salad with Feta and Fennel
For the Salad
5 oz arugula – cleaned well
3 oz baby spinach leaves – cleaned well
1/2 fennel – sliced thin, keep about 2 tablespoons of fennel frawns – chopped
1 vine ripe tomato – chopped
6 baby yellow tomatoes – halved
6 cherry red tomatoes – halved
1/2 English cucumber – chopped
4 oz feta – we buy a cube of feta and then cut into 1 inch chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Course ground pepper and a dash of flake salt
For the Dressing:
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (you could use olive oil, just make sure it is a light olive oil that is flavor isn’t overpowering)
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fennel frawns
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon chopped shallot
1-2 teaspoons water (optional, I often like to thin my dressing out a bit without adding extra oil, so a bit of water can do the trick)
For the dressing – combine all ingredients in a container with an air tight lid and shake vigorously to make sure everything is incorporated. Set aside until ready to serve the salad.
For the salad – combine all ingredients in a large serving bowl, layering as you go. I often make the salad well ahead of time and set aside in a cool place in the kitchen or in the refrigerator. Since the dressing isn’t made with anything that will spoil it can sit out until ready to serve. When ready to serve, toss the salad with the dressing, making sure it has been evenly distributed. Add a bit of extra fennel frawns to the top for garnish before serving.