You would think this fennel salad is perfect for a ladies’ luncheon or perhaps for a crowd that is not into heavy or decadent foods.  But no, I made it for a “boy’s night.”  My husband was quite excited to invite his boys over for as he put it, “burgers.”  I’m sure in his mind, burgers meant, burgers, fries, nachos, wings and all that sort of food.  Don’t get me wrong I love it all but, all that fried food together is overkill.

Yes, I made burgers, but tried to elevate to something beyond a product a local place called, Bubba’s produces.  With a name like that, you can just imagine.  My husband is going to be all, “Why are you hatin’ on Bubba’s, their poutine is the best!”  Boys will be boys, period.  I also made an appetizer platter (it’s not me without an appetizer platter), grilled harissa chicken, dried fruit and nut couscous, chili lime corn on the cob, the fennel salad, and for dessert, brownie pudding with whipped vanilla bean mascarpone.  As you can probably tell, the menu was entirely catered for me.  I don’t always pick things that are my taste, but I like to mess with my husband.

Usually when we have people over it’s, “the boys.”  “The boys” are my friends too, but I do miss the girly bonding that every girl needs.  I can hold my own amongst “the boys” and sometimes it’s better to hang out with boys because there’s none of that girly cattiness involved.  Not that any of my girl friends are catty, they all are sweet and nowhere near catty.  I must admit, my husband’s close friends are very nice and I’m glad he has friends like them.  I might have painted the picture that they are the screaming hockey loving, beer chugging neanderthal guys, but they are not.  I like to be a little dramatic.  Girls will be girls. 😉

Regarding the salad, it is fresh and super simple.  Fennel and grapefruit are a very common pairing and I enjoy the flavors together.  Sorry, I didn’t go out of the box too much here.  But what works, works.  I added the avocado simply because I loveeeee avocados.  I don’t think I can be real friends with anyone who doesn’t.  Yes, I’m judgmental like that.  (Totally kidding)  I added toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch.  The vinaigrette was typical me, everything in the mini food processor and whirled into a dressing.  I used dijon, herbs, garlic, and a little shallot in the dressing.  It came out yummy. No one missed the wings and nachos. Most importantly, “the boys” enjoyed the entire night and so did I.

Shaved Fennel, Grapefruit, Avocado Salad with a Dijon Shallot Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6 as a side

adapted from here

Ingredients

1 large bulb of fennel, shaved as thinly as possible (if you have a mandoline, use it,) reserve the fronds for garnish and the dressing

1 avocado, sliced

1 grapefruit, cut into supremes, membranes reserved for dressing

a scattering of baby arugula, about 2 cups

2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds (toast on a dry frying pan on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes)

Maldon sea salt for sprinkling

black pepper, to taste

for the dressing:

1 small clove garlic

1/2 a small shallot

1/2 teaspoon country dijon, coarse ground

juice squeezed from the grapefruit membrane, if it is stingy, add a splash of orange juice

3-4 sprigs of chives

2 tablespoons fennel fronds

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil of good quality

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Method

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender or food processor and run until combined.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

In a bowl, toss the fennel with the dressing.  You may not need to use all of the dressing.  Arrange the fennel on a platter and top it with the avocado slices and grapefruit supremes.  Sprinkle the toasted pumpkin seeds over the salad.  Add extra dressing, if necessary.  Place some fennel fronds in an attractive manner over the salad.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.  Sprinkle on some extra black pepper and some Maldon sea salt at the end.  This salad can be kept in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.  However, to keep the avocado from browning squeeze some lemon juice over them.

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