Blue Cheese & Fennel Fall Salad

Fennel and Fingertips

During the summer I eat salads daily.  The hardest part seems to be choosing what yummy, fresh vegetables to add to my daily dose of greens.  When the weather cools down and fresh produce becomes more scarce, I’m forced to get more creative with salads.  I still like to have a variety of raw greens in my diet, but my preferences and options for toppings change.

When Nick and I picked up some Point Reyes Blue Cheese during our recent trip to the coast, I knew I wanted to make a salad.  We had some baby greens and arugula growing in the garden, and I knew the greens would pair beautifully with the creamy cheese.  I added some toasted walnuts for texture and the benefit of Omega 3′s and sliced up some crunchy apples for sweetness.  Caramelized fennel added the perfect final touch.  Topped with a whole grain mustard vinaigrette, this salad is full of seasonal, nutrient rich ingredients and totally hits the spot.

Many people add raw fennel (which tastes a bit like black licorice) to salads, but I like it cooked.  Caramelizing fennel mellows the licorice flavor and brings out a subtle sweetness.  Fennel is full of antioxidants, such as anethole, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent the occurrence of cancer.  Fennel is also a good source of vitamin C, which helps neutralize free radicals and prevent cellular damage.

Fresh Garden GreensRed BowlSalad SettingBlue BowlIngredients:

10 oz. mixed greens (I would suggest using half baby greens, half arugula)
2 bulbs fennel
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (Point Reyes Blue if you can get it!)
1 apple, cored and chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon white balsamic
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine the greens, chopped apple and blue cheese in a large salad bowl.  Whisk the balsamic, mustard and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Toast the walnuts until fragrant and light brown, 3-5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Slice the fennel bulbs in half.  Cut out the core out and thinly slice the fennel.  Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add fennel and saute, turning occasionally, until brown and caramelized.  Add the minced garlic and cook one minute longer.  Set aside and cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the fennel and walnuts to the large salad bowl.  Toss with the dressing and serve.

Serves 5 as a side salad

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