We’re Cooking: Very Green Salad


We had a quick escape to glorious Napa Valley last weekend and stayed at the guest house at Cline Cellars with some friends who were new to wine country living. With a big house and the beautiful California products at our disposal Gary and I decided to create a big dinner one night, invite a few friends of ours from the valley and celebrate Napa with a few incredible bottles. I pulled out a few favorite recipes –  truffle mac and cheese, roasted red pepper soup (with the addition of a few roasted jalapeños), two huge lemon and herb stuffed roasted chickens and this gorgeous salad filled with lots of ripe, creamy California avocados, crisp sweet and tangy green apples, licorice filled raw fennel and fresh feta dressed with a simple layer of balsamic, lemon and herbs mixed with fresh California olive oil.  Wine country delicious!


Very Green Salad – Avocado, Fennel and Granny Smith Apple with Romaine and Basil
1 large avocado, just ripe and very green
1 large Granny Smith apple, sliced very thin
1 head Romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded, chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves, julienne
1/2 fresh fennel, sliced very thin + 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
4 ounces fresh feta, crumbles
Salt and pepper
1/2 small lemon

For the dressing:
6 ounces fat free Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 small lemon
2 tablespoons very fresh extra virgin olive oil
1/2 garlic clove, minced very small
1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fine
1/2 tablespoon fennel fonds, chopped fine
Pinch salt and fresh pepper
1 tablespoon water (just to thin the dressing a bit)

Add the lettuce to a serving bowl with the fennel fronds and basil. Add a dash of salt and a few turns of freshly cracked pepper and mix to incorporate.
Cut the avocado in half, scoop out the flesh and slice into thin slices. Add to the lettuce with the fennel and apple. Squeeze the lemon juice over the avocado, apple and fennel. Set aside.  In a small bowl whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Make sure everything is mixed well. If too thick add a touch of water and mix well. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix to just coat the salad. Crumble the feta on the top and serve.