Thursday, May 23, 2024

My Favorite Salad Recipe

Ah salads. They’re often either really boring, really complicated, and/or horrifically bad for you – I’m looking at you, CPK. But my favorite salad recipe is pretty balanced. It’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but it’s quick, tasty, and, on balance, is decently healthy.

What You Need

Like all of my featured recipes, you can find a lot of what you need for this recipe on Farm Link Hawaii. Even better, there’s not a whole lot to it. So, here’s what you need:

  • 8 ounces salad mix – I prefer Kahumana Organic Farms Baby Greens Mix
  • 2 bulbs of fennel – on Farm Link, you’d get 2 pounds
  • 10 thin slices of pancetta – I get mine from Butcher & Bird
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons of golden brown sugar
  • 0.25 cup + 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 0.25 cup balsamic vinegar – I recommend Due Vittorie Oro Gold Balsamic Vinegar since it’s a great combination of price and quality. Are there better vinegars out there? Sure. If you’re willing to spend more. Island Olive Oil is another excellent resource for both olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • honey (optional)
My Favorite Salad Recipe - ingredients


As with every recipe, you’ll want to get all of your ingredients prepped before you start cooking. In this case, you’ll want to start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Then, cut your fennel bulb into 0.5-inch pieces. How you cut them isn’t all that important, what’s important is the thickness of your pieces are about 0.5-inch or it’ll take too long to cook.

Next, you’ll want to mince your garlic and add it to a medium-sized bowl with tablespoons of brown sugar, 0.5 teaspoon of salt, 0.25 teaspoon of black pepper, and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Mix to combine and add your prepared fennel and pancetta. Toss everything together to coat. Then, spread your fennel and pancetta mixture in a single, even layer on your prepared baking sheet. Note: the pancetta will burn first, so keep it away from the edges.

Roast your pancetta and fennel mixture for 30 minutes. At this point, check your mixture – you want your pancetta to take on a brown color and for the fennel to soften and also take on a golden color. The fennel may need an additional five to 10 minutes longer than the pancetta. So, if your pancetta looks good at 10 minutes, remove it from the sheet and return the fennel to the oven to continue roasting. Once done, let your pancetta and fennel cool to room temperature.

My Favorite Salad Recipe - roasted pancetta and fennel mixture

Make Your Vinaigrette

While your pancetta and fennel is roasting, make your vinaigrette. Personally, I prefer a simple balsamic vinaigrette, which is what I’ll cover here. But, almost any vinaigrette will work here, so feel free to experiment!

To make your vinaigrette, combine your 0.25 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 0.25 cup of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt, a pinch or two of black pepper, and a literal drop of honey. The honey works as an emulsifier and will help to keep the vinegar and oil from separating. Once combined, vigorously stir your mixture with a spoon until you have a homogeneous vinaigrette.

You can also take this time to wash your greens.

Assemble Your Salad

If you plan on eating all of your salad in one sitting, you can toss your greens and vinaigrette together in a bowl to lightly coat. But, if you’re not going to eat everything at once, portion out your greens and drizzle with the vinaigrette to your taste. Then, top your greens with the roasted pancetta and fennel mixture. If you like, you can garnish your salad with the fennel fronds. And, that’s it! Enjoy!

My Favorite Salad Recipe

While you can enjoy this salad as a simple, light meal, I highly suggest pairing it with my Mushroom Carbonara 2.0. The sweet-tangy vinaigrette, along with the vegetables and pancetta will provide a nice counter to the luxurious pasta.

As always, please consider using my Farm Link Hawaii referral link to help support my recipe series.

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