Cooking Light (November 2015)
When we sat down to think about this year's Thanksgiving trends, we definitely had this salad in mind. It hits on two of the biggest themes we noticed: Vinegar and Ancient Grains.
So basically this salad is super trendy for Thanksgiving 2015. But there's a more important reason you should make it: It's incredibly delicious.
We don't cook an awful lot from Cooking Light. Every now and then a recipe will catch our eye, but the magazine just isn't usually in our rotation.
But you guys? Cooking Light KILLED it this Thanksgiving. There are so many delicious dishes in the November issue. We wound up making several for our Fakesgiving preview dinner last week. Dare we say that Cooking Light might be our favorite food mag this Thanksgiving? Pick up an issue and judge for yourself.
Anyway, let's talk about this salad.
Actually, let's talk about the spelt. As we said, unusual grains are all over the place this year, and they're being treated in unusual ways. To wit: fried spelt.
It's quite easy to make, actually -- cook it in hot oil in small batches and then let it dry on a paper towel. On its own, the crunchy spelt tasted a bit like unpopped popcorn kernels.Fried, it has a nutty flavor, and gets incredibly crisp.
But once it's mixed into the salad, it's transformative. It adds the perfect unexpected crunch.
The salad as a whole is just wonderful. The tart and sweet apples and fennel are brightened by the mustardy vinaigrette (vinegar trend alert!). All in all, it's an incredibly refreshing, crisp counterpoint to the savory rich flavors of a typical Thanksgiving dinner.
You could serve this as a starter course, if you're the kind of incredibly-organized-and-put-together person who serves starter courses at Thanksgiving. Or you could do like we did and serve it right along with all the other side dishes.
Either way, you should definitely consider adding this to your menu. We fully guarantee that your guests will say, "This is delicious!" followed immediately by, "And so trendy!"
Shaved Apple and Fennel Salad with Crunchy Spelt
Cooking Light (November 2015), recipe by Ann Taylor Pittman
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Nutritional information available at Cooking Light
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 fennel bulb, halved and cored
1 small green apple, quartered and cored
1 small red apple, quartered and cored
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup Crunchy Fried Spelt [recipe below]
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Cut fennel and apples into 1/16-inch slices using a mandoline. Add fennel, apples, parsley leaves, and Crunchy Fried Spelt to vinaigrette; toss well to combine.
Crunchy Fried Spelt
6 cups canola oil or peanut oil
Line a jelly-roll pan with several layers of paper towels. Spread spelt out into a thin layer on paper towels. Let stand 1 to 2 hours to dry out surface moisture, stirring grains occasionally.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until a thermometer submerged in oil registers 375°. (Do not use a smaller pot; moisture in the grains will cause the oil to bubble up vigorously.) Add 1/2 cup spelt to hot oil; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until grains are browned and crisp. (Maintain oil temperature at 375°, and fry in small batches.) Remove fried spelt from pan with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining spelt, 1/2 cup at a time.