Shaved Fennel Asian Pear Salad with Pomegranate and Watercress

Becky of Project Domestication and I have teamed up again this month to share one more Thanksgiving recipe just in case you needed another item to add to your growing menu. You do, right? I mean can you ever have enough side dishes on Thanksgiving? I think not! Make sure to pop over and check out her fabulous Lignonberry Jam Baked Brie – the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer. Becky is also sharing her recipe for Herb and Orange Compound Butter. For my recipe, I chose salad. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a salad recipe. This Shaved Fennel and Asian Pear Salad with Pomegranate and Watercress is a winner!

Now, I don’t know many people who start their Thanksgiving feast with salad, but I like to have one. I feel like it helps fill me up with some healthy raw veggies and fruit and keeps me from overdoing it on the rest of the feast. I think as I’m getting older and I’m more in tune with my body, I’m doing that less often. But still – it’s Thanskgiving, right? The holiday of indulgence. :)

I actually spent quite a long time thinking about just what I’d like to put in this salad. My kitchen is full of tasty seasonal fruits and veggies right now and so I had plenty to choose from. I had a few bulbs of fennel in my fridge that were beckoning me. You know how much I love fennel, especially raw in salads. So. Fennel it was and from there I looked for flavors and textures that would be good with the fennel.


Asian pears are a relatively new thing for me to buy and eat. I usually skip over them for other varieties based on price point. But I have been splurging a little and I really like them! They taste like pears, but are more juicy and crunchy. Kind of like a hybrid of pear and jicama almost. Anyway, I’m totally sold on those and will be buying them more often.

For the greens, I chose watercress both because I happened to have some leftover in my fridge and because I like the peppery flavor. Fennel and watercress were magical with the sweet pear slices and tangy pomegranate arils. I can’t have a salad without nuts on it, I just can’t. So this time I chose hazelnuts.

There are so many layers of flavor and texture in this salad! To add one more layer, I made a very simple vinaigrette using a little vanilla bean paste, a tiny pinch of sea salt, raw apple cider vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. On its own, the vinaigrette is pretty acidic, brash even. I used equal parts ACV and olive oil. I wanted it to be the lightest vinaigrette with a lovely vanilla flavor. The salad doesn’t need much, honestly. Each bite is full of flavor and juicy fruit, but the vinaigrette just gave it that extra little something. (Anyway, I say that about the vinaigrette because if you were to use it for a different salad, you might want to add more olive oil to even out the acidity.)

Last thing, I don’t think it needs cheese, but if you were to add some, a salty cheese would be a great choice. Something like a ricotta salata or a really good Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.

And that’s it. A long, complicated tale of a pretty simple salad that is healthy, delicious and colorful. As all good food should be. :)

Shaved Fennel Asian Pear Salad with Pomegranate and Watercress
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A fresh, flavorful salad made with Asian pears, shaved fennel, pomegranate, and watercress.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch watercress, washed, stems trimmed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 medium firm, but ripe, Asian pears
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • ½ cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • pinch sea salt
Instructions
  1. Have a medium mixing bowl filled with cool water. Add the lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Cut the tough stalks and trim the bottom of the fennel bulb. Cut it in half lengthwise and remove the core by cutting a v-shape and carefully twisting the knife to get it out. Thinly shave the fennel using a very sharp knife, mandoline, or food processor slicing attachment. Place the fennel into the bowl of lemon water to keep it from turning brown.
  3. Cut the pear in quarters and remove the core, then carefully cut into very thin slices with a sharp knife, or using one of the other methods mentioned above. Place the pear slices in the water with the fennel.
  4. Arrange the watercress in a bowl or on a large platter. Drain the fennel and pears well and add them to the platter. Sprinkle the pomegranate arils and hazelnuts on top.
  5. In a small bowl whisk together the vanilla bean paste, salt, and vinegar. Add the olive oil and whisk well. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad. Serve immediately.

 

Shaved Fennel and Asian Pear Salad with Pomegranate and Watercress


Ingredients:

1 large bunch watercress, washed, stems trimmed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large fennel bulb
2 medium firm, but ripe, Asian pears
1 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
pinch sea salt

Instructions:

Have a medium mixing bowl filled with cool water. Add the lemon juice and set aside.

Cut the tough stalks and trim the bottom of the fennel bulb. Cut it in half lengthwise and remove the core by cutting a v-shape and carefully twisting the knife to get it out. Thinly shave the fennel using a very sharp knife, mandoline, or food processor slicing attachment. Place the fennel into the bowl of lemon water to keep it from turning brown.

Cut the pear in quarters and remove the core, then carefully cut into very thin slices with a sharp knife, or using one of the other methods mentioned above. Place the pear slices in the water with the fennel.

Arrange the watercress in a bowl or on a large platter. Drain the fennel and pears well and add them to the platter. Sprinkle the pomegranate arils and hazelnuts on top.

In a small bowl whisk together the vanilla bean paste, salt, and vinegar. Add the olive oil and whisk well. Drizzle the viniagrette over the salad. Serve immediately.

Yields: 4-6 servings

You may also like

4 Comments

  1. I am in your camp about salads on Thanksgiving. I want to have one before. Sadly my family doesn’t but maybe I can’ change that and soon!

    This salad is so festive for the holiday and absolutely seasonal.

    It’s so fun to team up. And thanks for sharing my baked brie. Man, it’s good.

    Happy Thanksgiving this week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe:  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.