ARUGULA SALAD WITH MARCONA ALMONDS, AVOCADO + FENNEL SLIVERS

I make some variation on this salad for my own lunch at least once a week, and it always makes me happy. The foundation ingredients are always the same: fresh arugula leaves (preferable from our backyard garden), avocado, and sliced fennel bulb. These items - three of my favorites - with a nice dressing can be enough lunch for me. That said, I usually like to layer a few more items in my salad bowl: toasted pine nuts, hazelnuts, or pistachios, and either Parmesan or fresh goat cheese. In winter, kumquats or blood orange are nice additions, or in summer I will add some juicy cherry tomatoes. And if I can, I throw in a few fennel or arugula blossoms from the garden.

The layers of flavor and texture in this salad are not only beautiful to look at, they are deeply satisfying: you get peppery, crisp, creamy, salty, and crunchy bites all in one dish!

INGREDIENTS makes 2 meal-sized salads

  • 1 heaping teaspoon Djion mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • sea salt, a pinch or two
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh baby arugula leaves
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1 avocado, sliced and peeled
  • 1/2 cup Marcona almonds (or toasted pine nuts)
  • 1 ounce best quality Parmesan, shaved
  • ¬†freshly ground Black pepper
First make your dressing. Scoop the Djion into a 16 ounce Mason Jar, giving you plenty of room for whisking the dressing. Pour in 2 teaspoons of vinegar and a pinch of nice salt. Use a fork or small whisk to fully incorporate the ingredients. This next part is essential to a successful dressing: whisk vigorously and continually as you slowly drizzle your olive oil into the jar. Stop periodically to make sure your oil is emulsifying, giving it a few extra whisks before you continue drizzling in the oil. You will end up with a really nice creamy dressing for your salad. Taste and add more salt if you need it. Set aside. You will have leftover dressing for later use - always a nice thing to have on hand.

Wash and thoroughly dry your arugula. Scatter even amounts of greens onto two pretty plates or low bowls. Using a mandolin, if you've got one, slice the fennel bulb into thin rounds. Scatter fennel over the arugula. Next layer on the avocado slices. Then sprinkle on the Marcona almonds. Finally, using a vegetable peeler, shave thick pieces of Parmesan over the salads. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of dressing onto each salad and give a few grinds of the pepper mill.

Enjoy!

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