After the holidays of non-stop cooking and hosting, I had to take a break for a while. After a brief trip to LA, and a reunion with my best blogging friends, I feel more refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things. The inspiration of this Panzanella Salad with grapefruit, fennel, and avocado, came mostly from pregnancy cravings, but also my desire to eat light and seasonal this month. I hope you’ll find this post equally as refreshing.
I must admit, this year I ended the holidays a little discouraged about cooking. I had a house-full of guests with all different preferences, plus I just felt like I prepared so much yet I’m not sure if it was all worth it in the end. The holidays ended and I was exhausted and burnt out. I LOVE hosting so I was frustrated partly with myself too. Maybe some of the tiredness and irritability came from being pregnant but I don’t want to blame it on that. Honestly, I think have have some maturing to do in the cooking/hosting realm. If someone doesn’t enjoy my food, I want to be okay with that, and even more so I want to be flexible enough to happily offer them something else. In my heart, I believe hosting should be first and foremost about valuing the people at your table not about the time and effort put into the preparation, yet oftentimes I do feel disappointed and focused on the results of the food. I hope that this year I can refocus my heart on the people gathering at my table, whether at home or at an SLCmixer, and less on perfection of the food. I hope to not be disappointed when someone picks at their plate or asks for something else, and instead, be flexible and accommodating. I hope people leave my home feeling known, cared for and, of course, well fed.
In hopes of refreshment in my heart and in my kitchen, I’m cooking light and fresh this month. Also, I can’t help but be guided by the cravings of pregnancy, which so far for me consist of tart and sour fruits. Cranberries, grapefruit, and oranges could be supplied endlessly to me right now! Lucky for me that’s what’s in season too!
A few tips for this Winter Salad:
One of my favorite things about eating seasonal is perusing around the grocery isles at our neighborhood market, Liberty Heights Fresh, for bright fresh produce. This month I spotted the most delicious citrus fruits to create this salad with. As for preparing the ingredients, if you’ve only eaten grapefruit with a grapefruit spoon, to chop the enormous fruit, simply slice the rind off first using a sharp knife and cutting from the tip down the edges, all the way to the red interior. Then peel each grapefruit segment apart like you would an orange. From here it will be easy to cut each segment in half or thirds to toss in the salad. For the fennel, start with the white bulb. Slice of the end off, then slice into quarters through the core of the bulb. Using a small sharp pairing knife at an angel, remove the tough inner core of the bulb, then slice each quarter into thin slices. You also want to chop the fronds, the delicate strands or leaves at the top of the vegetable (similar looking to dill) to mix in with the dressing. The flavor of raw fennel comes through as a slightly sweet anise or liquorice taste with a nice crunch like celery. The seasonal produce come together perfectly for one of the most refreshing tastes I’ve enjoyed in a long time!
What refreshes you after a long holiday of cooking and entertaining?
- 1 cup of bread, cubed and toasted with olive oil salt and pepper
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, hard inner core removed and very thinly sliced
- 1 large red grapefruit, peeled, segmented, juice reserved
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 tablespoons minced fennel fronds (wisps at the end of the fennel plant)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Slide Ridge honey wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar with 1 tsp honey)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- slice your favorite bread into 1/2 inch cubes (day old bread works well). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast at 300 degrees for 5-10 minutes.
- Combine toasted bread, sliced fennel, grapefruit, onion, avocado, in a medium bowl and toss gently to combine. Whisk together reserved grapefruit juice, fennel fronds, olive oil, and honey wine vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add dressing to salad and toss to combine. Serve over mixed greens or by itself.
See post for added notes on slicing the grapefruit and fennel. If you're enjoying this salad as a full dinner, you may want to add some chicken or turkey to the mix.