Who says a winter salad has to be heavy?

 16 Feb 2017 - 15:57

Who says a winter salad has to be heavy?
Roasted Fennel and Lemon Salad With Turmeric Walnuts (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

By Joe Yonan / The Washington Post

For us Mid-Atlantic folks, this has been a strange winter, weatherwise. Overall, it has been much milder than usual (with the exception of a frigid week in December). Then last week, we saw 70 degrees one day - and 30 the next.

That can do a number on you in the kitchen, or you can consider it liberating. I'm going to go with the latter, focusing on the welcome fact that my body craves much more variety than the soups, stews and casseroles typical at this time of year.

Even, say, a salad doesn't have to have "winter" written all over it, bulked up by grains and cheeses (as wonderful as those are), but can instead be on the lighter side, even in February. The trick, of course, is to go with produce that's at its peak - or at least not looking too sad.

I found a good one in "The Yoga Kitchen" by Kimberly Parsons. She has you roast fennel wedges, whose anise flavour then mellows into something wonderfully delicate and subtle. Also into the roasting pan go thin lemon slices, which add a spark of acid. My favourite touch: walnut halves that have been quickly candied with a little honey and turmeric, the latter bumping up the good-for-you quotient.

The green base here is baby spinach (or pea shoots if you can find them). Parsons doesn't call for a dressing per se, but I couldn't leave it out: I drizzled the salad with oil and vinegar, and scattered on a little flaky salt. I want something light, but not that light.

Roasted Fennel and Lemon Salad With Turmeric Walnuts

4 servings

You'll need three rimmed baking sheets.

MAKE AHEAD: The roasted fennel and lemons can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Let them come to room temperature before assembling the salad. The turmeric walnuts can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from "The Yoga Kitchen," by Kimberly Parsons (Quadrille, 2017).

Ingredients

1/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Water (optional)

1 cup raw walnut halves

2 lemons

4 medium fennel bulbs, a few fronds reserved for optional garnish

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1 cup loosely packed baby spinach leaves (may substitute pea shoots or watercress)

1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

Red vinegar, for serving

Flaky sea salt, for serving

Steps

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the honey, crushed red pepper flakes, turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl to form a thick paste, adding a splash of water, as needed, to help loosen it. Stir in the walnuts until well coated, then spread them out one of the lined baking sheets. Roast until bronzed and crunchy but still a little sticky, 15 minutes. Let cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Cut the lemons in half lengthwise. Remove as many of the seeds as you can, then cut the halves crosswise into 1/8-inch slices. Remove the stems and fronds from the fennel bulbs, trim the bulbs, then cut each bulb into 8 wedges (without removing the cores). Reserve some fronds for garnish, if desired.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, then add the lemon slices and boil (blanch) for 2 minutes. Drain well, then combine the lemon slices and the fennel wedges in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, tossing gently to incorporate. Divide the mixture between the remaining two baking sheets, spreading it evenly. Roast until the lemons have dried out and started to brown on the edges and the fennel is just cooked through (but not mushy), 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.

Return the roasted fennel and lemons to the same large bowl, scraping in any pan juices, too, then add the spinach and tarragon and toss to incorporate. Drizzle in another 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to distribute.

Divide the mixture among individual plates. Scatter the turmeric walnuts on the salads. Drizzle with a little more oil and vinegar, and finish with the flaky salt. Garnish with fennel fronds, if you'd like.

Nutrition | Per serving: 370 calories, 7 g protein, 42 g carbohydrates, 24 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 10 g dietar

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