My mom loves spinach, which, for better or worse, is just not one of my favorite greens, but since it was her only request for the meal, I figured I should find a way to work it in. My compromise was to put it in a salad filled with other flavors and textures so that it was buried beneath the salty blue cheese and sweet apples and cherries. The fennel added a really nice mild but unexpected flavor, and the chopped toasted pecans added a really great crunch. I added some fresh thyme to the salad. I was also using it in roasted potatoes and a blue cheese sauce I was serving with chicken for the main course, so it was nice to have just a hint of the flavor in the salad. With this much flavor going on in the salad itself, I kept the dressing was super simple to let all of the flavors shine.
Fennel Apple Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese, Cherries and Pecans
- 1 large bulb fennel
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, chopped
- 1/2 c dried cherries
- 1/3 c crumbled blue cheese
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1/4 c toasted, chopped pecans
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
Add spinach to a large bowl. Slice fennel in half. Remove core. Slice crosswise, starting at the bottom into thin strips. You could use a mandoline if desired. Then chop long strips into thirds. Add to bowl.
Chop apple, with peel on. (If you're preparing the salad ahead, just put the chopped apple into a bowl with lemon juice and water to prevent browning.)
Add apples, cherries, thyme and crumbed blue cheese to the bowl.
Add vinegar, olive oil and salt to taste. Toss.
Top with toasted pecans.