The clock is always ticking on produce. Nature brings fruits & veggies to the table on its own cycle and I look forward to the arrival of each new season’s bounty with equal measure to the part of me that will miss something when it goes out of season for the year.
When I saw the bulbous fresh fennel bulbs in the produce section last weekend, I realized that the best fennel was going to be around for just a little while longer, and so now was the opportune time to take full advantage. I wanted a salad that would rely on the roasted, mild sweetness of fennel bulb, but also have a bright flavor to bring some sunshine to my lunch. The base of the salad is a combo of fennel, flavor-friendly cauliflower, and shallots, all roasted together simply with olive oil and salt & pepper. Smooth, creamy protein from cannellini beans are a mild backdrop onto which I painted the flavors of the dressing: whole spices ground together, including tangy mustard seed; mild, sweet & slightly citrusy coriander; bright, spring-like fennel seed; and fenugreek, which whispers of bitterness, citrus, and maple syrup; and finally, freshly grated lemon zest.
After warming the beans and roasted veggies, I tossed tender, peppery arugula with the dressing and was amazed at how a little warmth unlocked the citrus aromas from the dressing & beans – the whole bowl smelled of fresh spring sunshine. A rework to the dressing (or maybe the beans) would be good, however, because it did seem to be lacking in an darker, or more earthy, underpinning to give an umami flavor and counterbalance the feathery greens and delicacy of the bright citrus notes.
- Oven roasted cauliflower
- Oven roasted fennel bulb
- Oven roasted shallot
- Cannellini beans (tossed with salt & pepper, lemon zest, ground whole fenugreek, yellow mustard seed, fennel, & coriander)
- White miso
- Dijon mustard
- Rice wine vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Lemon zest strips