It is officially the first week of December, which means it is officially the holidays and that means lots and lots of food. Which, don’t get me wrong is more that all right with me. But even someone who loves food as much as I do cannot sustain myself on the rich holiday dishes and sweets alone. Whether you spent this past weekend indulging in brisket and latkes or baking cookies as you decorated your tree sometimes you need a little palate cleanser. For a long time I really didn’t like salads, not because they were healthy but because I would take three bites and then be really bored of it. But I realized that that was just because I was only eating really boring salads. Once I realized that you could pretty much put anything in there I got a lot more excited about salads.
Just because you are using this as a brief reprieve from all the goodies of the season it doesn’t mean you can’t indulge a little bit with some wine. This salad goes perfectly with a medium bodied, slightly oaked Chardonnay. Chardonnay can be a difficult wine to pair with food but the texture of this salad help to make it a really successful match. The toasted peanuts and curry bring out the hints of oak in the wine while the apple and fennel help to highlight its bright fruit character.
- 8 ounces mixed lettuce
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 granny smith apple
- 1 lime
- 3 ounces peanuts
- 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
- 2 ounces manchego cheese, shaved
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Zest half the lime and set aside for later. Then cut both the fennel and the apple into small matchstick pieces and squeeze the lime over the slices to keep the apple from browning.
Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat toast the peanuts with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the curry powder. Toast for about 2 minutes until the nuts are starting to brown slightly and the curry powder is fragrant.
To make the dressing combine the balsamic vinegar, the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil, Dijon mustard and lime zest.
Assemble the salad by tossing lettuce, fennel, apple and peanuts together with the dressing and topping with the shaved manchego cheese.