I’m constantly striking a balance at meal time. Do I make only what I like and hope my 4-year old daughter will like it, too? (In my dreams.) Do I make only what she likes and suffer a bit at the blandness of it all? Heck no. What I do is make one thing I know she’ll like because she isn’t naturally inclined to try new food (and granted, I like to add a lot of unique ingredients to my dishes). So yesterday for lunch I made her homemade chicken nuggets from The Mom 100 Cookbook (highly recommend!), and for myself I made one of my favorite warm weather salads, which I thought “might” appeal to her. Thinly shaved fennel paired with red onion, and balanced with orange segments…it’s crunchy, sweet and savory at the same time. I’ve made this salad countless times (it’s so easy to prepare), but as someone who loves to add different ingredients, I updated it with Citrus Champagne Vinegar and a pinch of crushed chili pepper.
S happens to like a bit of spice on her food, so the chili pepper was appealing. I thought she might like the crunchy texture of fennel but I was mistaken: instead she picked out the orange segments and ate those, avoiding the slivers of onion and fennel. I ate some of her chicken nuggets, but dipped them into mango chutney. Somehow we were both pleased with our lunch, so it’s one I’ll make again.
My recommendation: You can certainly slice the fennel and onion thinly with a very sharp knife, but here is a better idea—treat yourself to a mandolin. You’ll get paper thin slices a lot more easily.
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly on the mandolin
1 small red onion, sliced thinly on the mandolin
2 oranges, one to carve out the segments, one for juicing
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of citrus Champagne vinegar (optional)
1 tablespoon fennel fronds
1 pinch of crushed chili pepper
Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
Make the salad
Add fennel, onion and orange segments in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, fennel fronds, crushed chili pepper, and salt and pepper, to taste. Add as much as you like (there may be leftover salad dressing) to the fennel-onion-orange mixture, and combine.
Tracey Ceurvels, a NYC-based mom, journalist + recipe developer, helps newlyweds, young couples, and moms + dads with her weekly dinner plan of fresh, seasonal dinner recipes. Visit Your Weekly Dinner Plan on her blog, The Busy Hedonist, for more information. If you’re visiting NYC, you might enjoy NYC iFoodShop: a Food Lover’s Guide to Shopping in NYC.