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Developing recipes has, simply, become a joy for me. Discovering how flavors intermingle, weighing the flavor combinations, is like a meditation. Of course, finding ways to turn American classics into beloved AIP versions is still a goal. But this summer, my desire is to look for delicious, fun, and new kinds of flavors. Dispel the notion that AIP can’t be exciting. First on my list? Tackling the salad. Thank goodness I have grown and learned this: a salad is not bibb lettuce and hot house tomatoes. It is not dried slices of cucumbers and a few sad croutons. These, unfortunately, were the salads of my childhood. And, if I’m being honest, straight up until about ten years ago.
Now I know this: salads can be basically whatever flavors inspire, or that can be dreamed up. Spiralized veggies, topped with warm black rice, slices of fresh plums and goat cheese? Good. Roasted root veggies with globs of tahini and caramelized pepitas? Absolutely. Salads can be all this, and much, much more.
Yin and Yang:
What interests me in salads, and what you’ll find in abundance of here, is the yin and yang of tangy / sour to sweet. Of crunch to softness. The slivers of red onion here lend an acidity to what might otherwise be a bowl of squishy, mild fruit. Beyond the onion, there is the bright, sharp fennel, the musky papaya. Chunks of ripened avocado. Then, toss everything with blueberry dressing, a thick mixture made from fresh (or frozen) blueberries pureed with olive oil, champagne vinegar, a glob of honey and a dash of ginger. If you’re feeling adventurous, by all means sprinkle in the papaya seeds. They have a black peppercorn-type of flavor, so if you like that flavor, enjoy! Normally I tend to use them sparingly, but was much more liberal here; the blueberry dressing helps keeps them in check.
We served this to a couple who began as dear friends of Mike’s but have become dear to me, as well. There was this papaya fennel salad, some of our Vietnamese Summer Roll Salad, and the shredded beef from my beloved Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, by Mickey Trescott, made in the Instant Pot. We sat at our makeshift table, said a prayer of blessing, and shared together.
Making recipes may be a meditation, but time spent with good friends is the goal and center, the reason and purpose for it all.
What You Need to Make this Recipe:
- sea salt
- champagne vinegar (I have become something of a big fan of vinegars – they add a lot of interest to foods and dressings and dips and there are a nice variety that are AIP-compliant to choose from!)
- olive oil
- raw honey
- ginger root powder
Enjoy this friends, and don’t forget to #letscreatethesweetlife if you make it! Here’s to finding “salad freedom” this summer, by letting go of what a salad is “supposed to look like”. It all comes down to flavor, flavor, flavor!
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This recipe is part of Phoenix Helix’s Recipe Roundtable, #227.
Papaya Fennel Salad with Blueberry Dressing
Papaya, avocado, fennel and slivers of red onion dressed in a tangy-sweet blueberry dressing. AIP, Paleo + vegan, this tastes good eaten after making, but even better after it has had some time to marinate in the fridge.
- 1 medium papaya, seeds removed, cubed
- 2 avocados, cubed
- 1 large or 2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 2 Tablespoon champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- papaya seeds, if desired
Add papaya, avocados, fennel and red onion to bowl. Toss well. Sprinkle sea salt over and adjust to taste. Add papaya seeds to taste.
Using an immersion or regular blender, add all blueberry dressing ingredients and blend until thick and creamy.
Save dressing until just ready to serve. Pour over, toss to coat, and enjoy.