Fennel Grapefruit Salad with Vodka Citrus Vinaigrette

Hey fennel fans! I’ve been flirting with fennel for a few weeks while writing an article for Made Woman Magazine. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this glorious green and white vegetable, with celeryesque stalks decorated by fine, feathery fronds, is raw and shaved thin. The flavor is slightly sweet and the texture crisp with notes of mellow black licorice.

Fennel is used frequently in Mediterranean and Italian cooking, but there are endless ways to create edible delights with this member of the Umbelliferae family. Carrots, parsley, dill and coriander are all relatives of this versatile veggie. Some will tell you fennel is also called anise, but it’s not. They are two different plants (though related) and that’s your dinner party knowledge nugget for the week!

This fennel grapefruit salad is super simple to make and delivers bright, refreshing flavors, perfect for spring and summer. It’s a great light lunch during the week and pretty enough on the plate to serve when you have company.

Fennel Grapefruit Salad with Pea Shoots and Vodka Citrus Vinaigrette

    Serves 4

INGREDIENTS FOR VINAIGRETTE

    3  Tablespoons fresh ruby red grapefruit juice

      1 Tablespoon vodka (I use Hangar 1 or Ketel One)
      1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
      2 teaspoons agave (or sugar)
      2 teaspoons hot and sweet mustard (optional, but delicious!)
      1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

    INGREDIENTS FOR VINAIGRETTE

      1 large bulb fennel, washed, stalks cut off, sliced into thin rounds
      1 cup pea shoots, washed (you can substitute sprouts)
      DIRECTIONS

    Chill four (white) salad plates in freezer for at least 10 minutes. In medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients for vodka citrus vinaigrette. Set aside. Divide fennel, grapefruit and pea shoots evenly between the four white plates, drizzle each salad with a few Tablespoons of vinaigrette, then sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper. Serve right away and bask in bite after bite of fresh, fabulous flavors!

    Fennel pairs well with the following: butter, celery root, cheese, chestnuts, citrus, coriander, cream, fruit, garlic, hearts of palm, lemon, mushrooms, olive oil, olives, onions, oranges, pancetta, peppers, Pernod, potatoes, sherry, thyme, tomatoes, truffles, vinaigrette … and experiment with flavor any combination you feel might be magical in the mouth!

    Fennel can be served: raw, roasted, braised, grilled, deep fried, pureed, sautéed and in soups.

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