It's now officially spring but if you live in Toronto like me it doesn't really feel like spring at all...yet. We had snow everyday last week but thankfully, it was mixed with some sun and some blue skies every now and then. We tend to have the tendency to complain and be impatient...we seem to forget that there were previous years with more snowy days. I keep on wishing that next week will be a bit warmer and I think it will be. I'm looking forward to the pretty blooms of the season. So while waiting for that ideal spring weather and hopefully crank up the blender and the juicer, this semi-warm salad is perfect for now...comfort food for me and my family.
Fennel is one of my favourite veggies and I've been buying them weekly for different varieties of salads. This mixture happens to be a hearty one...great for the last snowy days of the year. Fennel is so delicious and nutritious...it's a good source of Vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber. It also contains a powerful phytonutrient called anethole which has anti-inflammatory properties. This salad is a great mix of yummy goodies and big enough for some packed lunch for the next day.
Fennel and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Arugula and Avocado
Ingredients (Preferably organic)
2 c. thinly sliced fennel (about 3/4 of a large fennel bulb)
1 c. dry quinoa
2 c. water
5 oz. pack of wild arugula ( read item #4 on Method)
1 1/2 c. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes
1 avocado cut in cubes
1/3 c. sulphite-free dried cherries (or cranberries)
1/3 c. green onions, chopped
1/4 c. lightly toasted sliced almonds
1/2 t. coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp. cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
2 Tbsp. sulphite-free balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. (or to taste) Himalayan Crystal salt
pinch of black pepper
1. Rinse the quinoa under cold water by using a wire sieve and then drain. Put the rinsed quinoa into a sauce pan and add the 2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil and as soon as it starts boiling, turn the heat down to simmer. Open the lid to prevent from boiling over. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed then the lid can be put back on. The quinoa turns a little transparent with spiral sprout when cooked. Fluff and let it cool down.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, add the coconut oil to the sweet potatoes and roast them at at 350F (I used the toaster oven) for about 20-25 mins.
3. Wash the fennel, cut off the green tops and stalks close to the bulb and also about 1/4" off the root end. You can reserve the stalks for vegetable broth or soups. You can peel off the tough outer layer but if the bulb is tender, no need to do that. Cut the bulb in half and clean out the hard core in the middle then slice thinly.
4. You can use regular arugula leaves. Cut the leaves into 2 segments (maybe 3 for longer leaves) so that they are not too long and stringy and easier to manage when the salad is being eaten. Prep the avocado, green onions and lightly toast the almonds.
5. Place all the ingredients of the dressing in a jar including 1/2 of the green onions and with the lid on and tightly closed, shake until well combined.
6. Assemble the salad in a big bowl by mixing the quinoa, greens, fennel, sweet potatoes and 1/2 of the dried cherries. Add the dressing then top with avocado, almonds, the rest of the dried cherries and the rest of the green onions. Enjoy!
1. Feel free to use another type of greens (baby spinach, mixed greens or baby kale)
if you happen not to be a fan of arugula.
2. Dried golden berries can also be substituted for the the dried cherries.
I hope your first week of spring was awesome! And for the rest of us who are still waiting for that perfect weather of the season, I know it's just around the corner now and pretty soon we will be enjoying the beautiful flowers and trees all around us.