Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fennel and Sunchoke Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

(Salad is Pictured with Mini Asian Chicken Meatloaves)

I am a huge fan of fennel! It is crisp, refreshing and has a light licorice flavor to it. It can be roasted, sautéed, put in soups and even eaten raw. The latter is exactly what I have done with it in this recipe. It is thinly sliced and paired with green onions, sun chokes and a zingy vinaigrette.

Sun chokes are actually the root portion of the sunflower, which until recently, I had no idea you could eat. They also have a mild, slightly nutty flavor that is said to be kind of a mix of jicama, potato and artichoke. Well, this is the common comparison, but I think they have the texture and flavor of a rutabaga mixed with jicama. They are light,crisp and tasty raw. However, these can also be used pretty much any way you desire as well. Though so far I have only tried them raw.

Because these veggies are both lighter, the normal thing would be to pair it with a light vinaigrette. I wanted something that packed a punch and had an Asian flair to it, to pair with my mini meatloaf’s. So I decided to make a miso vinaigrette. This vinaigrette packs a punch and has quite an acidic tang to it because of the rice vinegar, but if you like your dressing a little sweeter, you can add 1-2 tsp of brown sugar. I also made it optional to add sesame seeds to the salad. It is great either way, though in the picture above, I did it without.

For Salad:

1 bulb of fennel - thinly sliced

5 sun chokes – peeled and thinly sliced

5 green onions – thinly sliced

sesame seeds - optional

For Dressing:
1 tbs miso paste

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 tbs sesame oil

3 tbs vegetable oil

½ tsp fresh ginger – grated or chopped

1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper

½ tsp red pepper paste or ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1-2 tsp light brown sugar – optional

Combine miso paste, vinegar, black and red pepper, ginger and sugar (if desired) until well blended and miso and sugar are dissolved. Then whisk in sesame and vegetable oil.

To Assemble Salad:
In a large bowl toss sun chokes and fennel with desired amount of dressing. Top with green onions and sesame seeds - if desired.

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