Who is ready for spring? I think it’s safe to say, we have had our fair share of snow and cold weather this year and enough is enough! Spring in the Bluegrass is the prettiest time in Kentucky. Keeneland spring meet, horseracing season, trees and flowers all in bloom, and crisp sunny days makes this place our Camelot! I can hardly wait for the fresh kale from my garden, the smell of lilac bushes in the air, and patio dining at my favorite locale. Spring makes me think of lighter fare, (let’s be honest…we’re eating light to fit into those teeny bikinis by summer) which leads me to salads.
When building a salad, you need to think in terms of taste and texture. Our tongue is divided into compartments, with taste buds specifically targeted to salty, sour, sweet, and spicy. When I build a salad, I always keep these four flavor components in mind and try to have something that represents each. Texture is also extremely important. Crunchy, creamy, crisp, smooth, etc. All of these textures combined add to the enjoyment of a well composed salad.
I find it best to fix each individual salad in small bowls or salad plates to ensure that each serving has an adequate amount of each ingredient. If you mix it all together in a large salad bowl you end up digging for the good stuff at the bottom.
Mixed Greens with Fennel and Orange Hazelnut Vinaigrette
1 fennel bulb, core removed and sliced
2 oranges, 1 peeled and cut into segments, and 1 reserved for juicing
½ cup organic raspberries
¼ sliced red onion
4 cups organic mixed greens
4 ounces goat cheese
Toasted almond slices
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove minced
2 tbsp. raw honey
¾ cup hazelnut oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice the salad ingredients and add to a large bowl. (Optional, set out salad plates and assemble each separately to ensure everyone has an equal share of all ingredients)
Combine remaining vinaigrette ingredients, except the oil, into a medium glass bowl.
While whisking, slowly add the oil in a thin, steady stream until the oil is incorporated.
Season with salt and pepper, and toss with the salad ingredients. Serve.