For once in my life I am actually pretty satisfied with a recipe and pic. People who know me will confirm that I am such a nerdy perfectionist that this is a rarity indeed! I was really feeling in spring mode yesterday and as I wandered around my local fruit and veg (Farro) I started just grabbing at ingredients to put in the trolley - fresh, vibrant, slightly peppery young watercress, a beautiful aniseedy fennel bulb, moist hot smoked salmon, small sweet oranges, earthily fragrant hazelnuts and luscious creamy buffalo mozzarella - basically I was constructing the salad in my head as I walked. The whole lot was brought together with a liberal drizzle of Al Brown's Lemon and Fennel infused olive oil, but you could easily make a simple dressing with lemon and olive oil if you can't get your hands on it or something similar.
A long, long time ago I was diagnosed as having ulcerative colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease), and at that time I began a mission to eat as healthily as I could in an attempt to see how it affected the symptoms. For a year and a half I ate no meat, wheat, dairy or sugar (Whaaat? Vegan and gluten free long before it was hipster cool). Any way, I found that after that time (and on-going medication) my colitis was stable and I began introducing regular food back into my diet with no ill-effects, and now I eat any and everything, (and no medication!) - although the older I get the less inclined I am to eat meat, so I guess you could say I am on the verge of being a pescetarian. During the time I was on a limited diet I also spent a lot of time researching the different vitamin and mineral content of foods (super-foods way back when), and it is something that has remained of real interest to me. The reason I am telling you this is because this salad is for me, so fantastic in terms of what it provides. If you wanted, you could add a carbohydrate, but we tend to get enough most days any way. Further down below the recipe details I will list the predominant mineral and vitamin content of the different ingredients, and their uses in the body. Before I freak you out though - the main thing that is so good about this salad is that it is absolutely bloody delicious :)
6 cups young watercress
2 small fennel bulbs
250g hot smoked salmon
2 small oranges, peeled and segmented
150g fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts
You don't really need instructions for this - just trim the fennel bulbs and remove the outer layer then slice finely, ideally on a mandolin. Then just layer the ingredients onto the plate and drizzle with infused oil or dressing. Serves 6 for a light lunch or as an elegant spring entree :)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
sea salt to taste
OK, now remember I am just some chick sitting at home at my computer, not a doctor or scientist, so these are assertions that I have found in books and on the internet - don't be hating on me if you disagree!
Packed with beta carotene and vitamin K, zeaxanthian, lutein, beta carotene as well as a purported cancer fighting compound phenylethyl isothiocyanate. Good for promoting bone health, and limiting neuronal damage in the brain. Also contains Vitamins C and K helpful for fighting infection and eye health.
Contains as much potassium as banana, high in phytonutrients and antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C which helps fight infection and zap free-radicals and Anethole a cancer-fighting compound in fennel oil.
Salmon (wild is optimal)
Loaded with Omega-3s, vitamin D, selenium, B2, B3, B6 and B12 and protein-rich, great for reducing inflammation. Helps in combatting cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, depression and cognitive decline. May also assist in skin's protection from the sun.
Vitamin C for fighting infection and free radicals obvs, but also contain phytonutrients and flavanoids, soluble fibre, thiamin and potassium. Also good for reducing inflammation and the risk of developing kidney stones or diabetes. Bonus - fibre which helps keep you regular!
Rich in protein, with niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, biotin and vitamin B6 for maintaining healthy skin and vision, and the formation of red blood cells. Vitamins A, D, and E for bone health, calcium absorption and protection of cell membranes.
Contain phytopchemicals (flavanoids) which may support brain health, improve circulation and reduce allergenic symptoms, protein, heart-healthy fats and oleic acid which helps lower LDLs (bad cholesterol) and raise HDLs (the good stuff).
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
High in phenolic antioxidants, oleocanthal and antioxidants, especially vitamin E. Anti-inflammatory, cancer-protection potential, good for balancing cholesterol and reducing blood pressure.
Optional extras that would work well with the salad and boost the nutrient count - quinoa, broccoli sprouts, asparagus, blanched peas or broad beans.