Strawberry, Fennel and Arugula Salad with Cacao Nibs

After I took the pictures, I pretty much ate the entire platter of this Strawberry, Fennel and Arugula Salad with Cacao Nibs by myself.  And as much as I want to feel sorry about that, I kinda don’t.  This is yet another in a series of many clean-out-the-fridge salads.  I love those because they are often a little crazy and extra creative.  They either turn out surprisingly well or terribly awful.  This is the former, thank goodness.  And yes, it has cacao nibs on top.  Yessss, it does.

Can you even handle the gorgeousness of this salad?!  It was almost to pretty to eat.  Almost.  I really love the contrast of flavors and textures going on here.

Cacoa nibs are kinda trendy right now.  Or at least I think they are.  I’m seeing them all over the place in all sorts of recipes.  Maybe that’s because I’m seeing what I want to see?  I made some killer Cacao Nib Pavlovas earlier this year.  I’ve added them to cookies and eaten them straight out of the bag.  I like them a whole lot.

If you’ve never tried cacao nibs, they taste like toasted nuts with a hint of chocolate.  It’s not knock-you-over-the-head chocolate flavor–just a meer hint.  I get mine from Caputo’s Market in Salt Lake City.  I like the Amano Ocumare cacao nibs.  The cacao itself doesn’t come from Utah, but I still consider it a local business and local product.

I kinda felt like I was being kind of edgy when I decided to pair the fennel and strawberry with the arugula.  All three have their own distinct flavors already and together they were magical.  I felt like cacao nibs could stand up to it.  And they did, but of course.  The other thing about this salad–the dressing.  Remember when I made the Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette for that other fah-reaking amazing blueberry cucumber salad?  (Go see it.  I’ll wait.)  (Okay, right?!)  Well, that vinaigrette is really good on this too.  It’s just a wowzer kind of salad.  Just like I love.

Becky and I teamed up again this month after a brief break.  The theme is Local Food.  Check out her amazing (!!!) Lemon Poppyseed Sugar Cookie Bars with Honey Goat Cheese Buttercream Frosting.  (WOW.  I’m almost speechless!)

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Strawberry, Fennel and Arugula Salad with Cacao Nibs

A flavorful fresh salad with shaved fennel, juicy strawberries, and peppery arugula. The cacao nibs are a surprising addition and go well with the vanilla vinaigrette.

  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 2 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • For salad:
  • 4 cups arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 large fennel bulb, core removed and very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs (or another nut)
  • For Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 to 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey*
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together or shake in a small jar. Taste and adjust to taste by adding more honey or salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.
  2. Toss arugula with sliced strawberries and fennel. Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle liberally with cacao nibs. Add more vinaigrette if needed. Serve immediately.
  3. *To make this truly vegan, use agave instead of honey.
  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: American

Strawberry, Fennel and Arugula Salad with Cacao Nibs

original recipe
serves 1-2, there will be extra vinaigrette

Ingredients:

For salad:

4 cups arugula, washed and spun dry
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1/2 large fennel bulb, core removed and very thinly sliced
1/4 cup cacao nibs (or another nut)

For Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette:

1/4 to 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. honey*
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together or shake in a small jar. Taste and adjust to taste by adding more honey or salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.

Toss arugula with sliced strawberries and fennel.  Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and toss to coat.  Sprinkle liberally with cacao nibs.  Add more vinaigrette if needed.  Serve immediately.

*To make this truly vegan, use agave instead of honey.

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57 Comments

  1. I’ve got those Amano Cacao Nibs in my pantry right now, waiting to be used. Your love of fennel is inspiring. It’s an ingredient I enjoy, though often forget about.

    We had a fun theme this month to create from didn’t we? Love that we do this.

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