This Fennel and Citrus Salad with Pistachio was originally developed for my friends at ELXR Juice Lab. As usual, they challenged me to create a delicious and inspiring Paleo and Vegan recipe. They also threw a curveball and asked me to make something geared towards Valentine’s Day cooking. I’m talking romantic food that puts you in the mood for love. After a considerable amount of brainstorming we came up with the idea of a sexy salad!

Ask my wife and she’ll probably tell you I haven’t got the slightest clue as to how to act sexy. But let me tell you this, there is nothing, I repeat nothing, sexier than a man who knows how to cook. AMIRITE? Especially one with some soigné skills like these. Like most things in life, it’s all in the presentation.

My plating tips:

  1. Work along the natural edges of the dish.

    • If you’re using a round plate just follow the curvature as an easy guideline,
  2. Don’t be afraid of Negative space.

    • Try not to crowd the plate with food everywhere. Instead, keep all of the ingredients off to the side. Then, when you sit down to eat together you can talk about how you were inspired by paintings by Barnett Newman and Joan Miró.
  3. The Rule of Three.

    • Arrange clusters of ingredients in three. Odd numbers look better than even. Don’t ask me why. They just do. Deal with it.
  4. Garnish Smart.

    • I’ve never understood garnishing food with ingredients that aren’t in the dish. It makes no sense! Instead, use things that appear in the food itself. For example, don’t toss those fennel fronds after removing the tops off the bulb. Not only are they pretty, but they actually taste good and add another layer of flavour to the dish! This also fights food waste – another riveting dinner-time conversation topic!
  5. Have Fun.

    • If at any point you stop having fun please abandon this exercise immediately. You’ve missed the point entirely! Try to relax and remember that you’re cooking, presumably for someone you love, and you want them to enjoy this meal. But do keep in mind that if you succeed you have a better shot of gettin’ sum afterwards 😉

So, fellas, the next time your lady is busting your chops because you haven’t been romantic since Obama was in office, whip up this Fennel and Citrus salad. You may also want to bust out some Luther Vandross and light a candle or two. If all else fails, turn on Chef’s Table and watch the pros do it!

Seriously though, give this recipe a go and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Cheers,

Ronny

Fennel Citrus Salad with Pistachio

INGREDIENTS:

1 Bulb fennel

Baby Spinach

1 blood orange – segmented with juice reserved

1 ruby red grapefruit – segmented with juice reserved

1-2 tablespoons roasted pistachios – shelled and crushed

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp whole-grain mustard

1 tsp lemon juice

½ teaspoon pure, organic maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Trim and discard the tops of the fennel bulb, reserving the fronds for garnish. Cut fennel into 0.25” slices and lay flat in a roasting tray. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45minutes or until softened and the edges are golden – flip halfway.
  2. Segment the orange and grapefruit and reserve the juices – set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, prepare the vinaigrette by combining 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 3 tsp EVOO, 1 tsp whole-grain mustard, 1 tsp grapefruit juice, 1 tsp blood orange juice, 1 tsp lemon juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange the roasted fennel overtop a bed of baby spinach. Add grapefruit and blood orange segments. Garnish with crushed pistachio and fennel fronds. Drizzle the salad with the balsamic-citrus vinaigrette and enjoy with a glass of your favourite white wine.