In my favorite cooking blogs and magazines I often find the Dainty Little Salad – ultra light, usually with shaved this or grated that, and featuring some type of seasonal fruit, usually pink – the most idealistic recipe there is. I usually write these off as a highly attractive, but kind of improbable meal. Then I had a labor day weekend that included a buffet of four types of mac & cheese, several some serious Giants ballpark fare, and copious amounts of beer at every turn. In a cruel coincidence (?), both pairs of jeans I own ripped straight down the bum. True story. So I thought it might be time to give one of these trophy wife salads a try.
Turns out this salad was as delightful to eat as it is to look at, provided you keep a few things in mind:
Recommendation one: thinly shaved fennel is a must. I have really enjoyed having a roommate with a mandolin, and can confidently say that the recommendation to buy this particular kitchen gadget is sound advice. When you’re crunching into a big old piece of fennel, you really do lose the effect.
Recommendation two: a salad bowl. It makes food ten times better. Even if it’s ridiculously large for one person. Just try it.
Recommendation three: sturdy greens. I used a spinach mix from the farmers market. If there’s one culinary pet peeve I have, it’s wilted, wimpy little lettuce leaves – and these guys have lasted a week and still look peppy.
Final and probably most important recommendation: supplement your salad. Dainty Little Salads are a lot more enjoyable when you aren’t starving. I threw a little tuna salad on the side of this one night, and had it with a fried egg over a slice of dark bread the other. I promise it doesn’t make you any less cute.
Spinach Salad with Sprouts, Fennel, and Grapefruit
1 bag of mixed spinach leaves or other fresh greens
1/4 of a grapefruit
1 bulb fennel
1 packet sprouts – alfalfa, broccoli, or mung bean
Apple cider vinegar
Wash spinach and sprouts and throw in a big salad bowl. Shave fennel with a mandolin and add to the bowl. Slice grapefruit with a knife into any dainty shape you want – you can slice it or just chop it.
Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 2 parts olive oil. Add some freshly ground pepper and a little squirt of dijon mustard. Beat with a fork and pour over salad.