Friday, November 6, 2009

Fresh fall salad - Kohlrabi, Fennel & Apple

Today was a sunny and warm fall day here. I got an early start to the farm for my weekly work share harvesting duty and I really sank into a sort of meditative groove of picking, cutting, banding, boxing and counting. I also had some nice conversation with the folks that I was working with. I think I even made a few new friends.

I got home from the farm and decided to take a run with my puppy on the Bosque trail. When I got back I needed to eat something light because it was late so I mixed up one of my favorite new salads. I was inspired to create this coleslaw-like salad last month because of an item I kept getting in my CSA box: Kohlrabi. I found out that Kohlrabi is a German turnip that is slightly sweeter than most turnips you might be used to. The photograph in the post before my last one is a kohlrabi just harvested with roots and all. It can be eaten raw or roasted, baked, boiled, etc. For this salad, you slice it raw into thin slices and mix it in with some spices, vinegar, oil, and other raw fruits and veggies (much like a coleslaw but with much bigger slices of fruit & veggie, not shreds). You can make this salad in a variety of different ways with a number of different ingredient combinations but the main ingredients I have found to work best together are:

1 large or 2 medium Kohlrabi (chop off greens and peel)
1 large Fennel bulb
1 large or 2 medium radishes (I use Easer egg because I like the spiciness)
1 large or 2 medium turnips (with green chopped off)
1 large or 2 medium apples (Jonah or another medium sweet, almost tart variety)
Handful of dried currants (or raisins)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts)

The dressing I make for this is:
1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
Dash of each: nutmeg, clove, cardamom, sea salt & pepper
2 tbsp champagne (or white wine) vinegar
2 tbsp vanilla infused olive oil

First, I prepare the dressing in the same medium sized bowl the produce will go into:
Mix champage (or white wine) vinegar and vanilla infused oil with grated ginger. (I also mix in a dash of pomegranate vinegar for a touch of sweetness and a tiny splash of walnut oil for an earthy/nutty flavor). I make the vanilla infused oil myself - it's super easy and smells amazing to make (the recipe at end of blog post). Add a dash of nutmeg, cardamom, clove, sea salt & pepper.
Next, I prepare the veggies and fruits and toss them all in the bowl as I slice them. Using a mandolin might make this step easier but I slice by hand with a VERY sharp knife. Chop all the greens off kohlrabi and peel the tough bitter skin off completely using a veggie peeler. (If you have a masticating juicer save those kohlrabi and turnip greens because they are sweet when juiced and taste great mixed with apple juice!) I quarter the kohlrabi and then slice the quarters into 1/8-1/16" thin slices. Next, slice apple in half and cut out core (leave peel on for red color). I slice the apple slightly thinner than the kohlrabi. Slice radish into thin slices. I use large Easter egg radishes because they are a little spicy but you can use any variety. Slice turnip in the same way. Peel 1 large bulb of fennel apart and then slice the stalks the short way creating little "C" shapes with the fennel. Toss them in as well. Next toast pine nuts (and/or walnuts) lightly with some sea salt and toss them into the bowl along with a handful of dried currants and/or raisins. Using wooden salad tongs toss it all together gently and serve shortly after it is made. I have eaten this salad the next day but it is not as fresh tasting.

I made a huge batch of this vanilla infused oil to give as gifts last holiday season:
In a small saucepan top 3 split vanilla beans with 4 cups light olive oil. Slowly heat until hot and vanilla is aromatic. Cool, strain and store refrigerated. I sealed the oil along with one split vanilla bean into little glass jars with wax.It should keep for a little over a year.

As the night falls I can see that the moon is waning and because of the fairly clear sky there is a mild chill in the air. Off to read for a bit and who knows, maybe I'll be up for going out for a beer at one of the local breweries I haven't tried yet.

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