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Cooking the Book: Baby Spinach Salad with Fennel and Apple

2012 November 9

As much as I love pears, it’s not like we were going to get through fall and winter without a couple apple recipes. Unfortunately, this recipe calls for an apple that is one of my least favorites. It’s possible Golden Delicious apples have gotten a bad rap with me because I’ve only ever had crummy-to-mediocre ones, but the truth is I just don’t like them very much. Being the good little recipe-follower I’m trying to be with this project, I used it.

The Good

Fennel is an often-ignored vegetable that really shines in this simple salad recipe. It also comes together pretty quickly once everything is prepped, possibly in the amount of time you would rest a protein for a main dish.

The Bad

One of the worst things about making this recipe was the photos. Sorry, y’all, nothing to see here.

Also, the Golden Delicious didn’t win me over on this one. Slicing it on the mandolin, it sometimes got mushy and fell apart and I found myself wishing for something more tart and crisp to better pair with the fennel while eating the salad.

The Leftovers

I’d come back to this one with a different apple.

Also, I owe the editors at America’s Test Kitchen an apology and a thank you. When I saw that list of dressing ingredients, I almost balked. I mean, mayo, mustard, lemon juice and honey? But it works. I never would have tried that on my own. I clearly need to expand my homemade salad dressing horizons.

Spinach Salad

from Cooking for Two, 2011

Serves 2


3 ounces baby spinach (about 3 cups)

1/2 fennel bulb (about 6 ounces), cored and sliced thin [I used a v-slicer], plus 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fennel fronds

1 Golden Delicious apple, cored, quartered lengthwise and sliced thin [I used a v-slicer]

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 4 teaspoons  fresh lemon juice

1 small shallot, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil


Place spinach, fennel, fennel fronds and apple in large bowl.

In separate bowl, whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, shallot, honey, mayonnaise, mustard and salt together until well combined. Whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle oil into mixture until glossy and lightly thickened. Pour dressing over spinach mixture, toss to coat and serve.

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