Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad

Citrus Fennel and Avocado SaladAccording to Vegetarian Times,  avocado and grapefruit are a common salad combination in Spain and France. Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad is like capturing sunshine in a dish!

Our featured recipe couples the citrus fruits of navel oranges, and ruby-red grapefruit with zesty arugula, the unique flavor of fennel, and creamy avocado. It also has a homemade vinaigrette that includes extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, Italian parsley, and the unique flavor of fresh thyme leaves.

dill and fennel flowersAre you wondering about fennel? Well, fennel is a bulb shaped vegetable with tall, thin, wispy, fronds that have the appearance of dill.

Though the two are from different plant spices. Dill is from the celery family, and fennel is from the carrot family.

Apart from the crunchy rather spicy vegetable, the fronds can be used in salads as well.

Fennel is a firm and crunchy vegetable, and has a flavor much like licorice and anise. Sometimes in the market, the produce worker will refer to fennel as anise, though it is not. Just like comparing yams and sweet potatoes, also very different from one another.

Now for our featured recipe: – Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad – and here is what you will need.

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, remove leaves from stems

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley chopped

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 large pink grapefruit, peeled and pith removed, cut segments into 3’s

1 large navel orange, peeled and pith removed, cut segments into 3’s

1 fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced, reserve fronds (optional)

4 cups arugula

1 ripe avocado peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

lemon and olive oil dressingMix first six ingredients in a large bowl, and set aside.

grape fruit with peel removed grapefruit segmentsPrepare fruit, fennel, leaving avocado last so flesh doesn’t brown.

Using a knife remove peel from both the orange and grape fruit. Be careful while cutting away at the peel, so as to remove as little of the fruit as be possible.

Next slice away any white pith, again removing as little fruit as possible.

Arugala and Fennel in a salad bowl with dressingAdd the arugula and fennel to the vinaigrette and mix until well coated.

Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad - image2On individual plate’s spoon salad mix and top with 1/3 cup grapefruit segments and 1/3 cup orange segments. Next add 4 to 6 chunks of avocado. Before serving add a few cut fronds to the plated salad. Prepares about 4 salad plates.

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Homemade Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt - garnished with fruitTo make homemade yogurt all you need is a half gallon of whole fat pastured fed milk and about a half cup of organic yogurt or a yogurt starter. We used the latter. If you do decide to use yogurt as your starter, avoid any flavorings and stick to plain, unflavored yogurts.

We are so amazed that we could do this. Why you may ask? Because we did not make it with a yogurt maker incubator. It was made with a crock-pot and the oven. Here is how it is done.

crockpot with fresh homemade yogurtUsing a crock-pot able to hold 4 cups of milk (1/2 gallon) pour milk into the ceramic bowel and place crock on low for 2 to 3 1/2 hours or until the milk reaches 180 degrees. Our crock-pot warmed the milk to 180 in about an hour and forty minutes.

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, this heating step is necessary to change the protein structure in the milk so it sets as a solid instead of separating.

Next, remove one cup of the warm milk, and incorporate the yogurt starter into the milk then add it back into the crock-pot and mix in well.

Heat the oven to about 200 degrees for about 5 to 10 minutes and turn the oven off. Remove the ceramic pot insert from the crock-pot heating element and with the lid on wrap the pot in a large towel. Place a cookie sheet on the center rack of the oven, and put the towel wrapped pot onto the cookie sheet.

comparing store bought Greek yogurt to homemade yogurtClose the oven door and turn inside oven light on (if your stove is electric – if gas, it is not necessary) and let the milk and starter incubate for up to 12 hours.

The towel will help hold the heat in, and turning on the incandescent light bulb will help maintain warmth in the oven. If your oven is gas, the small flame that is always lit will help maintain heat. 

jar of Homemade YogurtTo stop the process or the fermentation of the milk, remove the pot and unwrap it, putting the pot into the refrigerator for up to six hours and then transfer to a clean sterile jar.

The yogurt has a thin consistency like Yoplait or Dannon yogurtBut to get a thicker yogurt like Greek yogurt or possibly Bulgarian style yogurt, you need to put the yogurt into a clean cheesecloth and let the whey drip off.

In the dairy farm community, some farmers take the whey, which is mostly water with some lactose or milk sugars, protein, and yogurt cultures, and mixes it up with the cows’ feed.

Some dairy farms are now adding the whey to their anaerobic digesters, which is a septic tank for cow poo. By adding the whey to the manure and letting it brew to the point of releasing a stinky gas that is then converted into electricity.

One upstate New York farmer’s digester produces enough electricity to run the farm and sell some back to the grid (Consumerist).

Homemade YogurtThe whey from strained yogurt and even cottage cheese is an acid whey, also referred to as sour whey, and there is the sweet whey from cheese making. They two types of whey are used for many things, with two just mentioned.

Link here to a recipe using whey to make Lacto-fermented Applesauce.

Enjoy your homemade probiotic or cultured yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit. We tried a little real maple syrup, and oh boy what a treat.

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