The first month of this new year is already coming to a close, can you believe it?
January seriously flew by. These past few weeks have been quite busy for me. I can’t complain, I’m working on some exciting projects – one of them being the very first cooking workshop (vegan and gluten-free Valentine’s Day dessert themed!) I will be teaching at the end of the month with my friend and uber talented chef, Ruth.
I’m super pumped about all that is happening, but the truth is, I’ve had very little time for myself outside of work.
Whenever my schedule gets too busy and I can’t spend as much time as I’d like in the kitchen, I’m all about simple dinners and lunches. Uncomplicated dishes that don’t compromise on flavours and nutrients. Salads are of course my go-to. After all, I need to balance all the dessert recipe testing I’ve been doing lately with vibrant veggies and nourishing greens.
This salad is a winner. Easy to throw together, but delicious and super satisfying.
It makes a great lunch or a light weeknight dinner. I chose to go with a classic combo: fennel and carrots, both roasted to perfection to bring out their natural sweetness. I added a hearty grain for texture, fibre and protein. I went with spelt berries because I love their chewy bite and nutty taste, but farro, barley or wheat berries would also work well here. I tossed everything with peppery arugula and a handful of fresh mint and then drizzled it with a creamy and absolutely delicious garlicky-citrusy tahini dressing.
All the flavours came together so well. I swear you will want to make this salad over and over again. A super tasty and satisfying dish, full of flavours, textures and colours. It’s like a dose of sunshine in the coldness of winter.
Note: I recommend soaking spelt berries overnight to optimize digestibility and reduce cooking time.
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 1 lb carrots (about 4-5 large carrots)
- 1-2 tbsp coconut oil (or ghee)
- Sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry spelt berries (ideally soaked overnight) + 3 cups water
- 2-3 large handfuls arugula
- 1 large handful fresh mint, chopped
- ¼ cup tahini
- ½ cup orange juice (the juice of about ½ large orange)
- 1 tsp orange zest + more to garnish
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- ⅛ tsp ground cumin
- Pinch sea salt
- 3-4 tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Wash the fennel well. Trim the fennel stalks and tough end and cut into slices. Wash carrots well and cut into thin slices.
- Toss fennel and carrots with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in one layer on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, stirring once halfway, or until the vegetables are lightly caramelized.
- Rinse spelt berries well under running water and drain. Combine spelt berries with 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40-60 minutes or until grains are chewy. (If grains were not soaked, allow 65 to 75 minutes cooking time.)
- Drain off any excess water and set aside.
- Combine all the dressing ingredients except water in a blender (or use a hand blender) and blend until you have a smooth and creamy sauce. Add water, one tablespoon at a time and blend again until you achieve the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- In a large salad bowl, toss together the cooked spelt berries, roasted vegetables, arugula and chopped mint. Right before serving, drizzle with the orange tahini dressing and sprinkle with extra orange zest.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge (store dressing separately), for 3-4 days.
Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and focus on what could go right.