March is nearly here but the warmth of this Winter may lead to some confused (and early) Spring produce on the Central Coast. Spring brings the beauty of asparagus, beets, carrots, and strawberries, which are always welcome as they are fresh and full of flavor. Yet, in March, we still have late season produce such as cabbage, apples, celery, spinach, and the entire citrus family. So much goodness (and nutrition) to play with in the kitchen! We also can’t forget the mighty avocado, which begins to be harvested this time of year, providing us with one of the most perfect options of health around.
This month’s recipe, Fennel Apple Cabbage Slaw with Walnuts, incorporates much of what is in season right now, in a fresh, easy to put together salad. It is inspired by a new cookbook out, Tartine All Day, by Elisabeth Pruett. I rarely jump blindly into a cookbook purchase however this one was a no-brainer as the author is the cofounder of the legendary Tartine bakeries in San Francisco (and now LA). Her husband and partner in the restaurants, Chad Robertson, is a master baker and chef, and one of the most respected bakers in the world, known for his research and dilligence in taking the craft of food back to the basic processes. Both Chad and Elisabeth stand for making beautiful food from simple ingredients and are beyond inspiring in just about everything they touch.
I was lucky enough to recently visit Tartine Manufactury, their newest addition in San Francisco. The bakery/restaurant is in a bit more of an industrial space, as there are many facets of the baking going on at once. They are known for sourching their organic grains as local as possible, then grinding them on site, then taking the longest natural (and wild) ferments to create possibly one of the most beautiful tasting loafs of authentic sourdough bread in the world. It was beyond inspiring to see the menu at Tartine, as everything, I mean everything, is made in house and from scratch. From the pickles to the sourdoughs, to the salamis and yogurt, it was a treat for the tastebuds and a real eye opening experience to the beauty of the craft of creating authentic food from the ground up. Anyhow, back to the cookbook! What I really like about it is how it is made by a woman who is not only a trained chef, but a person passionate about her food, yet balanced with being also a home cook, business woman, wife, and mom. Thus, the book is practical! It has a variety of not your average breakfasts and brunch options, as well as soups, mains, and desserts. Lots of goodness and inspiration to say the least!
I have made this recipe numerous times as it requires no heat, which is good on hot days, and goes together easily, in one bowl. It incorporates so much seasonal produce, as well as walnuts, and I often add chicken to it, making for an amazing variation of chicken salad. Because there are no soft salad greens in it, it holds up great for leftovers, even a couple days later, which is great as it means the chances of it being consumed in its entirety, are high! If you make your own mayonnaise or aioli at home, this salad would taste even fresher as well. Instead of chicken, a fresh local chevre would add good protein to make it a light, complete meal, as well as some of our amazing, local avocados. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have, and, if you ever get the chance, visit Tartine to have your tastebuds inspired to the true craft of artisan cooking and preparation. Enjoy!
For the Salad:
- ½ head green cabbage, finely sliced or shaved with mandoline
- 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced or shaved with mandoline
- 2 fresh apples, grated
- 1 small celery root, peeled and finely cut, or 3 celery stalks, finely sliced
- 1 good-sized bunch of fresh parsley, minced
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted, and coarsley chopped
- 2 T whole grain mustard
- Juice of one juicy lemon
- ¼ cup champagne vinegar (or other good quality, light vinegar)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup fresh mayonnaise or aioli
- fresh ground pepper
*Optional Protein Addition- Roast or Poached chicken pieces or a fresh chevre’
Place cabbage, fennel, apples, celery, parsley, and half the walnuts in bowl. Add mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, olive oil, mayonniaise, and pepper. *If adding chicken, add here. Wash you hands, roll up your sleeves, and mix the slaw with your hands until thoroughly incorporated. Taste for seasoning, adding more to your liking. Serve with remaining walnuts on top.