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Fennel, Radicchio, Asian Pear - oh my! When you close your eyes and visualize your Thanksgiving table, what do you see? I know your first thought may NOT be a salad, but I challenge you to broaden your vision and see that in fact, salad is necessary!
Do you know what I see? I see mounds of stuffing, I see gravy boats piping with steam, I see this colorFUL salad sparkling on my dining table and I see myself presenting my perfectly succulent Turkey to my family who are singing and dancing to Christmas Music (because let’s be honest, Thanksgiving is just a dress rehearsal for Christmas ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). We’ll get back to that.
If you aren’t familiar with Asian Pear, friends, meet your new favorite Autumn Fruit! The flavor is subtler than its western counterpart but is crisp like an apple. I personally enjoy Asian pears cut in wedges with a sprinkling of tajin. Serious mike drop moment people! If you’re having trouble finding these beauties at your local markets then a pink lady works perfectly.
Now let’s talk raisins. I think we can all agree that they suck and need a lot of help. Look, I’m not here to lie to you, I will never! But these lemon soaked golden raisins are LIFE CHANGING. I was first introduced to this technique when I highlighted Sincerelyv_Plantbased’s Wild Rice and Microgreen Salad in my Community Recipe series and never looked back. In fact that salad might also make an appearance because it’s THAT delicious. The golden raisins in this recipe help brighten things up with bursts of citrus and sweet, radicchio adds some nice bitterness and stunning pops of color, the almonds for that earthy crunch, and fennel (oh my beloved fennel) gives some perfume and different kinds of fresh crunchy goodness. With all of this said, if you learn anything at all from this recipe, it is not that you need a salad for your Thanksgiving Table, nay the most important lesson today is that, golden raisins are your friends, I am your friend and have I ever lead you astray?
For the Salad
- 2/ 3 cup golden raisins
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 asian pears, rinsed and thinly sliced
- 1 head romaine lettuce, (butter, spinach or arugula are great options)
- 1 head radicchio, torn
- 1 bulb fennel, (fonds reserved),thinly sliced on a mandolin with fronds
For the Dressing
- 1/ 4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon hot honey, or sweetener of choice
- 2 lemons, juiced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Black peppercorns, freshly ground, to taste
In a small bowl raisins, lemon juice. Add enough hot water to fully submerge the raisins (about ¼ cup) Let soak for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.
To Make the Dressing
In a medium frying pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add shallots, almonds, and garlic and fry for about 4 minutes or until shallots turn a golden color. Season with some salt and pepper to taste. Strain the oil and set fried shallots, garlic and almonds aside, laying flat on a paper towel to drain. Set oil aside to cool.
To the cooled olive oil, add honey (or sweetener of choice), lemon and season with salt and pepper. Mix until fully combined.
On a large serving platter, layer the lettuce, radicchio, fennel and pear. Sprinkle the golden raisins, almonds, garlic and shallots on top. Add dressing and season with freshly cracked black pepper and maldon salt.