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Apple Fennel Salad, And A New-to-me Green Called Mâche

Posted May 08 2013 5:45pm
We've had some shocking weather, this month of May. I am really digging the fact that my tomato and strawberry plants are on the patio, and we can all bask in the sun together, but I am also a bit skeptical that the good weather is not here to stay, and mother nature is eventually going to slap us back into reality with a cold front and rain storm. Here in the Seattle, we cross our fingers and pray to the weather gods that there will be sunny skies and warm nights by the month of July. But lately, we've been going about our business with a spring in our step, fancy shades, and adorable shoes. Eating gelato for breakfast, swimming in the lake that is probably just a little too cold, and making s'mores on our fancy REI mini camp stoves. Also, drinking way to many margaritas. Temperatures have reached low 80's, and you won't hear me complaining about anything, except when people dump their left-over margaritas on my patio from the roof-top on Cinco de Mayo. Then I'm a little peeved - only because I wasn't invited. 


The warm weather started last Friday. It was nice - a pants and t-shirt kind-of day. I had previously agreed to a spring snowboarding trip to Whistler that weekend, and there was really no way of backing out last minute. So Saturday morning, I woke at the ski resort with a realization that it was a tank-top and shorts kind-of day, thanks to the thousand screaming teenagers gathered from all across BC for some sort of band competition. I thought to myself, perfect - the warmest day of the year, and I decide to go snowboarding, also, I am so glad that I don't have to relive that awkward pubescent stage again. I began to suit up, slipping my legs one by one into my warm and heavy snow pants -  it felt odd. I put on my jacket, regretting every minute of my decision, but I knew this to be the safest plan. I applied a thick layer of sun screen to my face, and off we went. Walking through the village, head to toe in gear was a great feat. 80ºF warm, passersby staring wide eyed with confusion. To be honest, I was a bit confused myself. 
Once we got to the top of the hill, the weather cooled a little, if only for the fact that we were standing on one giant ice box. The sun did not give-up however. After 5 minutes on the hill, I took off my coat, and tied it around my waist. I spent the day snowboarding in a t-shirt, and it was amazing. Almost as amazing as the elbow-pad-resembling-sexy-farmers-tan that I am now sporting. I made my way down the hill, turning and gliding down the slushy mountain with a large, totally retarded-looking grin, from ear to ear. With no line-ups at the lifts, and a comparable level of enthusiasm to a small child on Christmas morning, I approached each run with an ample amount of gusto. By the end of it all, I was exhausted. 

Since returning home, I've had little to no desire to turn on the stove. Even turning on the dishwasher seemed like a bit of a mistake, but we've got to be civilized, now don't we. Also, who wants to cook in totally abnormal, extremely awesome weather? I've mostly been throwing together salads, which has proved to be a great idea, because the markets are currently overflowing with beautiful and vibrant greens. I picked up a bag of mâche (otherwise known as lambs lettuce, or doucette or raiponce if you're classy) mostly because the bag said ' Mâche ado about something', and I thought that was clever. I'm assuming these tiny leaves are called lambs lettuce, because they are shaped like lamb's ears, despite the quote I just read 'All that I know, these bloody leaves are really tasty, if you are a Lamb, sadly, I'm not, so I really did not like the taste '. I really adore the flavor of mâche. To me, they taste like a combination between alfalfa sprouts and rose hips. Sweet, florally, and earthy? We can probably all agree that fennel and apple with a citrus dressing is delicious, but to be extra classy, why not throw some mâche into the mix.  
APPLE, FENNEL AND MACHE SALAD (print)
serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter
notes: mache is a very delicate leaf, therefore it should be eaten once dressed, as the lettuce will become soggy quickly. If you do not have access to mâche, spinach can be substituted. Cutting a fennel bulb is a bit challenging. I found it helpful to look at this youtube video

INGREDIENTS
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, sliced thinly
fennel fronds, chopped
2 large or 4 small apples (Gala, Pink Lady, or Granny Smith), sliced thinly
4 cups mache - lambs lettuce (spinach can also be used)
1 small shallot, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the stalks from the fennel bulbs and discard, saving the fronds. Cut the bulbs in half. Remove the tough inner core, by cutting out a triangle shape. Using a mandoline, slice the fennel using the 3 mm or 1/8" setting. Set to the side.

Remove the core from the apple. Slice thinly using the mandoline set to 3 mm.

Wash and dry the mache using a salad spinner.  Place into a large bowl with the sliced fennel and apple.

In a small bowl, whisk the shallot, olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad until lightly dressed. Sprinkle the fennel fronds on top. Serve immediately.

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