You may be guessing that I’m kind of obsessed with main-course salads these days. And I’d have to say that you’re right. I’ve never really been a sandwich-for-lunch kind of girl. So when we don’t have leftovers to heat up, I start digging in the pantry and the produce bins to come up with something interesting to eat.
My husband and I often share lunch, weather permitting, on a picnic table that is directly next to our vegetable garden. It’s kind of a charmed existence, really, especially because I actually love spending time with this man. (Good thing, since he’s worked from home for more than a decade.) Matt is my ever-eager taste tester on my lunchtime experiments. Sometimes my creations turn out okay (read edible), and sometimes they are exceptional. As was the case with this salad.
It’s chock full of crunchy fennel & chard, rich oil-packed tuna and creamy white beans, and rounded out with some orange slices, olives and bright herbs. What is not to love about all that?
After lunch, we often lay back on the benches, soaking up the California sunshine. And if we don’t doze off, we usually have a deep discussion…about what’s for dinner.
There is so much to love about this light, yet hearty main-course salad. It would be perfect paired with a (gluten-free) baguette and some prosecco or rosé on a summer evening, when it's simply too hot to cook.
- 1 can of white albacore tuna packed in olive oil
- 1 can of cannelini beans
- 5 leaves of Swiss chard
- 2 oranges
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh fennel fronds
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- juice from one lemon
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Drain tuna, flake with a fork, and place in large salad bowl. Drain and rinse beans and add to the bowl.
- Wash and dry chard and stack leaves together. Roll into a tight log, and slice very thinly (the fancy term is chiffonade). Add chard to the bowl.
- Carefully cut the rind (including the white pith) away from the flesh of the orange. Using your knife, cut each segment free from the membrane that separates them (the fancy term for this is supreme). Do this over a bowl to collect any orange juice that drips (which will be used in the dressing). Place the oranges in the salad bowl and set the juice aside.
- Cut the fronds off the top of the fennel bulb and set aside. Cut the base from the fennel. Slice fennel very thinly using a sharp knife or a mandoline. Add fennel to the salad bowl.
- Slice the kalamata olives in half, and add to the salad bowl, along with the red onion.
- Finely mince some fennel fronds until you have about 1 tablespoon and add to the salad bowl, along with the mint and parsley.
- Add the lemon juice to the bowl of reserved orange juice. Finely mince the garlic (or grate using a microplane) and add to the juice. Whisk in Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle half of the dressing over the salad and toss well so that everything is evenly combined. Taste and add more dressing or salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.