Spicy Camel Trading Company has so many spice blends at the farmers market, that sometimes I get overwhelmed. Thank goodness Dan brings samples of things to taste and inspire you. Dan of course picks up all his produce at the farmers markets while he’s there, so the tastings are always seasonal. He had a salad of cucumbers and something else in a small dice with a dressing made with their Fennel & Orange spice mix. I was inspired and picked up the spice mix and went in search of what I wanted to use to make my own take on this salad.
We cut the beet in half and roasted the halves in olive oil and aluminum foil and then let it cool. I cut the cucumber in half and seeded it with a spoon and then diced it leaving the skin on. My dice was not quite as small (nor as perfect) as Dan’s, but it was perfect for my salad. I then skinned and diced half of the cooled beet in the same size dice. Lastly, I diced up the apple, again I left the skin on. I squeezed some of the meyer lemon juice on the apples to keep them from turning brown. You can certainly use a regular lemon, but I like the meyer lemon because it is not as tart and will blend beautifully with the orange juice in the dressing.
Now it was time to make the dressing for the salad. I would suggest fresh squeezed orange juice, but you can use whatever you have handy. I had a orange, peach, mango blend in the fridge that Michael had picked up, so we used a little of that, added a bit of the spice blend, a little salt (I use the pink Himalayan) and then drizzled in the olive oil and whisked. Taste it often to be sure it’s what you like. Start out with a little bit on the spice, you can always add more.
Then just pour the dressing over the diced fruit and vegetables and mix! You can serve this salad on it’s own or over a bed of greens, … and you can use whatever is handy! Dan told me he typically just throws in whatever he has in the house. If you have fennel, that would be great in here and you could add some of the fennel fronds for a garnish.
I liked this mix for our salad because it has the earthiness of the beet, the sweetness of the apple and then this clean fresh finish from the cucumber, all wrapped up in this bright dressing with the dried fennel. The colors also work well, with the cucumber peel in place you had the contrast with the deep green. Don’t be afraid if your dressing turns pink! That’s those beets. If it really bugs you…go for golden beets.
Play and experiment and if you find a perfect pairing…by all means come back and share!