'Tis the season for comforting appetizers, sweet desserts, cheerful music, warm beverages, and lots of candles and holiday decor! I absolutely love this time of year. I wanted to share a few delicious and seasonal recipes with you that your family and friends will love! They are full of flavor AND nutrition - which is my M.O. The first recipe I am sharing is this filling and satisfying salad perfect for the cool South Florida months (or even up in the snowy north). Most people shy away from salads during this time because they tend to be cold and dry, but I am hoping you give this one a try!
Adding roasted carrots and fennel bring out the warmth, while the fiber and protein rich farro helps to make it a meal on its own. Farro is a nutritious ancient grain high in B vitamins and antioxidants. The high fiber content helps to balance blood sugars, improve digestion, and lower your risk for heart disease (cholesterol and blood pressure). This is not a gluten-free grain, so those with Celiac disease should NOT consume farro. However, this grain is believed to be lower in gluten, making it easier to digest for most. I actually soak mine overnight and rise thoroughly to help with the digestive process.
Speaking of gut health, did you know that fennel is amazing for digestion, as well? Which may be needed with all the additional treats we consume during these months. The real star of the show, though, is the dressing. Made with fresh herbs and orange zest, this will grab the attention of any guest and make you look like a pro chef.
1 large fennel bulb
5 large carrots
2 tbsp coconut oil
Sea salt and black pepper
1 cup cooked farro (Cook according to package instructions. Option to soak over night)
3-4 handfuls arugula
1 handful chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash and trim the fennel stalks and cut off the tough ends. Slice into ribbons. Wash carrots and cut into thin sticks. Toss fennel and carrots with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning halfway, or until the vegetables are lightly caramelized.
Combine the dressing ingredients (except water) in a blender and blend until smooth. Add a splash of water, and blend again. Add additional water as needed until desired consistency. Adjust seasoning to taste.
In a large salad bowl, toss together the arugula, roasted vegetables, farro, and mint. Before serving, drizzle the tahini dressing on top and sprinkle with extra orange zest. Salad may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store dressing separately.