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Endive, Fennel and Barley Salad

Winter and salads don’t usually invoke a shared memory. When I think back to foods we used to eat in winter during my childhood, there were mostly big dishes filled with hearty stews, soups, casseroles and meat with grains. There was Salisbury steak, pork chops cooked in rice in a dutch oven with green peppers (don’t even get me started on that one), lasagna, beef dips from leftover roasts, chicken legs, pork chops in breading and cooked in swimming pools of oil over an ancient electric frying pan. These were comfort foods of the highest order. My mother, sister and I and our love of comfort foods goes back so far it can’t be traced. My mother brought it to us and her mother to her and so it goes, back through time. 

But in my never ending quest to reverse my love of all things sugary, fatty, meaty, deep fried, baked with cheese….well, you get the picture, I have learned to love salads in the winter. The only thing that held me back was the availability of anything even remotely “local”. Yes, I make exceptions, for things like bananas and avocados. Look, avocados are my life okay? My freaking life. And bananas, well, they make up a good share of my morning smoothie. But I won’t go so far as to buy tomatoes in January, unless they come in a jar. They are just not good. Luckily for me, most of BC can grow a fair amount of produce in the winter and California provides the rest. I know it’s no 100 mile diet, but I need my citrus in the winter, and so I rely heavily on a farm in California called Deer Creek Heights Ranch. They supply a local grocery chain here with innumerable varieties of citrus, from navel oranges to grapefruits, to finger limes and limequats. I live for the time of year when they start showing up in the produce aisles.

So for now, when January comes around, I like to think of it as a little peek into spring and summer. I lead up to it by eating more salad, which is also a great way to stick to my clean eating plan. They keep me on track and I eat them with fervour. Because, come the weekend, I inevitably go out to eat at places like Smoken Bones CookShack or Bin 4 Burgers. I like to save my indulgences for then. Because, anyone that knows me, knows I will eat my face off come weekend. The salads are just making up for it.

This salad embraces the best of winter produce with endive (ehn-deev), fennel bulbs and filling barley all topped off with a beautiful citrus dressing. What could be more refreshing?

One year ago: Lightened Up Cream of Mushroom Soup

Two years ago: Barley Risotto with Peas (I guess I love barley in late January…)

Endive, Fennel and Barley Salad

Yield: Two to four servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: N/A 

For the Barley:
1 cup pearl barley
3 cups water or stock
1/2-1 tsp salt (optional)

For the Dressing:
zest of half an orange
juice of one orange
juice of one Meyer lemon
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp raw agave syrup
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard

For the Salad:

100g spring mix (about 4 cups)
2 small heads endive (not curly), Halved and sliced into thin half moons
1 small fennel bulb, halved and sliced very thin (discard hard center pieces and fronds)
1/2 avocado, diced
1/2 red onion, sliced very thin
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup cooked barley
80g fresh goat cheese (chèvre)

1. For the Barley: Rinse barley three times in cold water and drain thoroughly. Place in a saucepan fitted with a lid with water and salt and bring to a boil uncovered.
2. Cover, lower to a simmer and cook for 45-50 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Turn off heat and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Set aside.

3. For the Dressing:  Place all ingredients in a food processor (or use a blender) and blend until combined. Set aside until needed.

4. For the Salad:  Place the spring mix on two or four plates, sprinkle the endive and fennel over. Place a small pile of barley over each salad (1/2 to 3/4 cup is usually good), followed by the red onions, avocado and cilantro.
5. Crumble the goat cheese over followed by the dressing. Serve immediately.

Similarly delicious recipes from other fabulous food blogs:

Fennel Infused Vodka from Kitchen Konfidence
Fennel Gratin from A Full Measure of Happiness
Beet and Fennel Soup with Kefir from Love and Olive Oil
Rice Noodle Salad with Endive, Shrimp and Soy-Ginger Dressing from Cookin’ Canuck
Endive Pomegranate Salad from Rawmazing

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