Inside this salad is a hidden wonder of flavor. I mean that. There is a seriously fantastic combination of tastes in this salad. From the caramelized onion to the sherry vinegar to the raisins and the sun dried tomatoes. And I haven’t even mentioned the roasted fennel that was sprinkled and drizzled with salt, freshly ground black pepper and extra-virgin olive oil yet. This salad is devine.
I’d like to thank Chris from Tales of a Kitchen for this recipe. Laura found it while searching online and I have to say, it’s a winner. If I read correctly, Chris made this one up herself. She used her knowledge of flavors and textures and really hit the ball out of the park.
What’s best about this salad is that it really doesn’t take any special knowledge to put together. A little stove top cooking here and oven roasting there and you’ve got yourself a great lunch or side for dinner. Last night, we added this salad to our normal nightly, more traditional, salad and it worked really well. Whatever you do, I think you’ll like it.
2 Large Fennel, Fronds Removed and Bulbs Sliced 1/4 Inch Thick
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
Regular Olive Oil
1 Large Sweet Onion, Sliced 1/4 Inch Thick
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Sherry Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Raisins or Currants
1 Cup Quinoa
1/2 Cup Pecans, Toasted
2 Scallions, Sliced Thin
1/3 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, Chopped
1/2 Cup Green Olive, Pitted and Chopped
When preparing this dish, please be sure to focus on technique. The onions need to be fully caramelized and the fennel needs to be roasted until it’s lightly browned. Much of the flavor in this dish is derived from the length of time certain ingredients are under heat, so just be aware of that.
To start, adjust your oven racks so one of them is in the center position. Then, warm the oven to 400 degrees.
Roast the Fennel
Remove the stalks and fronds from the fennel. Then, carefully trim the very bottom of each bulb off. Discard that bottom. You can keep the fronds for garnish later on if you wish.
When the fennel bulbs have been cleaned and trimmed, go ahead and cut each one into slices about 1/4 inch thick. When finished, lightly drizzle some regular olive oil onto a large baking sheet and arrange the fennel slices on it.
Once the slices are on the baking sheet, go ahead and drizzle some more olive oil over them. Then, sprinkle a few pinches of salt and ground black pepper on them as well.
Finally, place the baking sheet in to the oven for about 20 minutes. Half way through, remove the sheet and carefully flip the slices. The goal here is to lightly brown both sides of the fennel slices. When finished, remove from the oven.
Caramelize the Onions
While the fennel is roasting, warm a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil to the pan and when it’s to temperature, add in the onion slices.
Continue to cook and stir the onions for about 20 minutes. During this time, steam will escape from the uncovered pot and the onions will begin to brown. When they begin to show some color, go ahead and add in the vinegar and the raisins or currants. With both of those ingredients in the pot, continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes. When finished, remove from heat.
Cook the Quinoa
In a small or medium saucepan, add 2 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Bring that water to a boil over high heat. Once it’s boiling, add the 1 cup of quinoa and reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and let cook for about 20 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid and is tender.
Toast the Pecans
Warm a small skillet over medium heat. When it’s to temperature, coarsely crush the pecans and add them to the skillet. Then, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over the nuts and let toast for a few minutes. Be sure to keep your eye on this process. Keep the nuts moving and don’t let them burn. They can burn rather quickly. When finished, remove the pan from heat.
Prep the Remaining Ingredients
Slice the scallions and chop the olives. I used sun dried tomatoes that had been soaked in olive oil and were already chopped, so I didn’t need to do that. When finished, add these ingredients to a medium sized bowl.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the fennel and toasted pecans. Mix well.
Plate & Serve
Divide the quinoa mixture from the large bowl between 4 plates. Then, divide the fennel among those plates as well. Just lay those roasted slices right on top of the quinoa. Finally, sprinkle the toasted pecans over each plate and serve.
The Final Salad
I have to say, writing this post makes me want to prepare this dish again. I’m sure I’ll refine the process to make it even streamlined next time. Give this recipe a shot and let me know what you think of it. Thanks for reading!