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Heirloom Tomato Fennel Salad

A few weeks ago, I dined with some of Toronto’s finest. That is to say, a few of the talented chefs from the city’s The Food Dudes had a dinner party. In order to accommodate my diet, these beautiful people made not one, not two, not three but four different vegan salads! There was green beans with tahini, radicchio and pear, watermelon with poppy seeds and this delicious heirloom tomato fennel salad. I felt incredibly spoiled given the fact that I was the only vegan at the party. Fortunately, one of the girls was dairy-free so I wasn’t entirely alone in the special diet category.

One of my least favourite things to do is telling people I am vegan. After all, I can usually count on a bowl of hummus or a coincidentally vegan dish, like an heirloom tomato fennel salad, presenting itself at most social events that involve food. Sometimes I bring my own dish if I know the meal will be meat-centered or if the host will feel embarrassed if they have little to offer me.

For example, I went to my aunt’s cottage not that long ago and I knew she would feel terrible if I subsisted off hunks of bread or carrot sticks all day. In preparation, I made a chickpea salad which everyone could enjoy but also provided me with a filling meal for lunch.

I dislike telling people about my dietary choices because many people have negative, defensive or panicked reactions. To be sure, my diet is not the norm. I do not expect people to make me four salads or make any special arrangements for me. In fact, my only expectation is that I am treated with kindness. I try my best to remain cognizant of the fact that it is not only my choice to be vegan but my privilege. Therefore, I avoid making judgements about what other people eat, serve, purchase or believe when it comes to food. If someone specifically engages me in a discussion because they are genuinely curious and open-minded I am happy to discuss my dietary choices.

Anyways, back to this amazing heirloom tomato fennel salad. I am fairly certain my friend sourced the recipe from Bon Appétit magazine. After trying it, I had to recreate it at home. I used the same ingredients as my friend but I have no idea what the proportions were in their salad. When it comes to salad I ascribe to the philosophy that you should follow your gut instincts. You really like the taste of fennel? Add more. Not a fan of cracked pepper? Leave it out. Follow your taste-buds to your own personal bowl of joy. Cheers to the my pals at  The Food Dudes for introducing me to this recipe.

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Heirloom Tomato Fennel Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 punnets heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 large fennel
  • 1/2 a cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
  • juice from 1/2 a grapefruit
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • fennel fronds for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pick fennel fronds and cilantro off stems. Set aside.
  2. Wash tomatoes and cut in half or quarter them if they are larger.
  3. Thinly slice fennel into ribbon like pieces.
  4.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl excluding the fennel fronds.
  5. Squeeze grapefruit juice over top, sprinkle in cardamom and drizzle with olive oil. Mix so everything is evenly coated.
  6. Garnish with fennel fronds. Salt and pepper to taste.

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