Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Like many of you, we’re hungering for clean healthy food after a few weeks of heavy, fatty, salty, sweet and oh so delicious holiday feasting. Friday night I made marinated and broiled wild salmon, sautéed kale with mushrooms, onions and garlic and baked microwaved sweet potatoes – a colorful nutritious combo.

To start us off, instead of the usual dinner salad, I tried a salad from Michael Chiarello, one of my favorite TV chefs, and, among other things, owner of Tra Vigne, a restaurant where friends and I had a delicious late weekend lunch on my first visit to California years ago. I just looked at the menus; he’s still making my favorite kind of food.

Our fruit drawer is full of tangerines. With all the other fruit in the house, we’re not eating them fast enough so I searched for a salad using tangerines. I hit the jackpot on this one. It’s a refreshing crunchy salad with an interesting (in a good way) balance of flavors. I hardly got to eat any leftovers because Jim finished them off quickly.

Watercress can be a pain to prepare if you’re occasionally fussy like me. I’m not always that way but I ended up going through the entire bunch, discarding thick (and not so thick) stems and darkened wet leaves. My meditation. I didn’t need to do that but I had the time. If you can’t find watercress, arugula might work, just chop it up a bit first.

The original recipe says to serve it immediately, but we ate it over a few days, well, I shouldn’t say “we.”

fennel carrot tangerine salad healthy

Fennel, Carrot and Tangerine Salad

You’ll need two good-sized bowls, peeler and very sharp knife (or mandolin).

  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 large fennel bulb, just the white bulb, not the fronds or stems (if your bulb isn’t gigantic, add another bulb
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice (or Champagne) vinegar, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups watercress sprigs, thick stems removed
  • 1 cup tangerine sections (about 4)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shave the carrots lengthwise into ribbons with a peeler. Cut off the stalks and fronds from the fennel bulbs. Using a very sharp knife (or mandolin), cut fennel into very thin slices.

Put the carrots and fennel in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Let stand for 20 minutes to soften.

Add the red onion. Gently mix in watercress and tangerines. Season with salt and pepper, toss well, taste, and add more vinegar if needed.

Original recipe: Shaved Carrot, Fennel and Tangerine Salad, Michael Chiarello

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