This clementine, pistachio, coconut and fennel salad brings together a unique pairing of flavors and textures. If you’re in a hurry or need an easy way to add more fruits and vegetables to your meal, this is it.
I don’t talk about salad all that often. Mostly because few people get really excited about them. They are sort of the quintessential “healthy food” and that can be a major turn off; well, unless you are a dietitian or nutrition nerd like me.
Since most people aren’t nutrition nerds, I can see the lack of appeal. Many times when I hit up a salad bar or get served a side salad at a restaurant, it lacks a lot of flavor and it often doesn’t look very appealing. Wilted leaves, way-too-big tomato wedges, and a whole lot of ranch dressing. You know what I’m talking about.
But believe it or not, salads can actually be a whole lot of fun and a great way to make the most of a variety of simple, wholesome foods.
My top favorite things about a good salad?
- It’s the fastest way to get fruits and veggies on my plate. Seriously, I just chop, toss, and serve. Perfect for those meals where you look around and realize “oops, everything is brown” or “oops, I forgot to plan the vegetables.”
- It puts my leftover foods to good use. Depending on my mood, I may either prep a salad at the beginning of the week or at the very end. Both have benefits – if I prep at the beginning I’ve got a salad ready to go all week long and have one less thing to think about. If I wait until the end, I can utilize any leftover foods from the week I may have – zucchini, sweet potatoes, beans, corn, walnuts, quinoa, apples, oranges – the list goes on and on! And there is nothing more satisfying than being resourceful – saving the planet and your money all at the same time.
- Creativity rules. Beds of leafy greens are a great blank canvas for creating, well, anything. For those just starting to get comfortable in the kitchen, it’s also a pretty low-pressure dish. It doesn’t have to be the main course and it’s pretty difficult to truly mess up a salad. So let your inner Julia Child shine through and start chopping and tossing.
This salad was inspired by my own leftover collection of clementines. My youngest, Ben, and I love these handy, adorable little fruits that are available in the produce section this time of year. BUT we very rarely eat through our entire stash before some of the clementines begin to go bad. Lucky for us, I had some spinach and romaine lettuce in the fridge, a perfect starter for a fresh new take on salad and a great way to use up a few of those delicious citrus-y bites.
Paired with fennel, pistachios, and wait for it – toasted coconut chips! – each bite was refreshing and divine. As a Michigan girl, I often have to bring the tropics to me, and doing so through food is one of my favorite ways. This salad definitely had a tropical flair that almost made me forget about all the snow we were hit with earlier this week… almost.
Oh, and I went dressing-free while eating this salad (that’s kind of weird, right?), but if you don’t want to do a dry salad like this nutrition weirdo, go ahead and pair it up with your favorite dressing of choice. Or you may want to go the DIY route and give this homemade honey clementine vinaigrette from Grace and Maddie of Double Thyme a try. It sounds both easy and delicious!
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, not packed
- 2 cups fresh romaine hearts, chopped, not packed
- 1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced and chopped
- 1 Tbsp coconut chips
- 3 clementines, peeled and sliced
- 1 Tbsp pistachios, shelled and chopped
- In a large bowl, combine spinach and romaine.
- Top leafy greens with fennel, clementine slices, and pistachios.
- Top with coconut chips.
- Eat dry or serve with your favorite dressing.
When slicing my clementines, I wasn't able to get nice thin rounds every time. To not waste those imperfect pieces, I squeezed them over the salad to provide moisture and flavor.