Bright, fresh, plenty of crunch, and adorned with sweet fennel flowers
It's Fennel Week! On Sunday I introduced my new "About" series. This series will shine a spotlight on a vegetable, fruit, grain, herb, or legume in season now. Each "About" series will start with an informational post followed by back-to-back recipes starring our feature ingredient. The first of the about series features fennel- a hardy Mediterranean herb that packs a lot of flavor, fiber, and crunch. This particular dish uses both the fennel bulb and the flowers. The bulbs are slightly more mild and crisp while the flowers give a strong hit of sweet anise flavor. My fennel is only just starting to flower, but I'm lucky to know many gracious gardeners who've shared their abundant flowers with me. This time of year, they shouldn't be terribly difficult to find. Luckily, even if you can't get your hands on any, this salad will still be delicious and refreshing. The tart green apple, the juicy, bitter grapefruit, and the crisp, fragrant fennel compliment each other beautifully among the soft greens. I've been making some variation of this salad for a while now, with it slowly evolving each time. The balance of the recipe is just right for me, but you should know that I appreciate bitterness. If the thought of eating raw, un-sugared grapefruit turns you off, I would advocate replacing it (in both the salad and the dressing) with orange. It should substitute very nicely. The salad will pack well for lunch, as long as you reserve the dressing until you're ready to consume it. It's super refreshing- so if you've got outdoor things to do early in the day, I highly recommend it for an afternoon cool down.
Vietnamese cold noodle salad with barbecue-pork-style tofu
I've recently awakened to my own passive attitude as of late. Slowly it's been working its way up to the surface and in the past few days I've come to see it with unmistakable clarity. It's not as if I've been a bump on a log, but I've been letting a number of things slide lately- in my own habits and, most notably, with work. Becoming passive about the state of things, my attitude about them, or just about keeping up with the routines, practices, and ideals that are important to me, is really not an area I care to wade into. I'm not one of those full of energy, always down for anything types (although one of my dearest friends is, and when I get to see her in a few weeks I'm going to try to catch some of her contagious vibrance!) but I am an active and productive person. And it suits me best. A little leisure here in there is fine- but if I stagnate for too long (in most any aspect of my life) it makes me very uncomfortable. And if I don't break out of that passive, stagnant state, it will inevitably start weighing me down, making movement seem impossible. There's really nothing farther from impossible, but it seems that way. Moments like this remind me of how tightly we tend to build cages around ourselves. Convincing ourselves a very many things about who we are and what we're capable of. Sometimes it makes us feel better- if I just can't change anything about my work situation right now and I simply can't bring myself to do anything productive anymore, then does it matter if I spend half the day watching 30 Rock and blogging? Cages can be cozy.
Hi there! I'm Cara- plant ecologist, gardening addict, and whole foods enthusiast. My whole life revolves around plants, including my kitchen. Join me here at LWM each week as I post local, seasonal, plant-based recipes and write about my never ending quest to find balance and tranquility in this crazy little world.