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Fennel Salad with Ojai Pixie Tangerines and Avocado

April 23, 2013

Can’t get more Southern California than this. All produce locally-sourced, this salad doesn’t whisper, “springtime is here,” it shouts it out from the tops of the avocado and tangerine trees to the ground where the fennel bulbs are pushing upwards to greet everyone.

Ojai Valley Pixies

I have a special place in my heart for the Ojai Valley. About 90 minutes from Los Angeles, it’s where my Novio and I went for a few days shortly after we were married six years ago. We didn’t have a whole lot of time so we decided to head out to the Ojai  Resort & Spa for a quick getaway. It was early summer and just beginning to get hot so the resort wasn’t overrun by guests (pay attention, please – this little detail will have a lot to do with what’s ahead).

I had a portable dialysis machine back then (thank you NxStage! You’re awesome). So we loaded up my jeep with the machine and supplies and off we went. In our lovey-dovey, staring-dreamily-into-each-other’s-eyes haze,we forgot one small little detail… the IV pole attachment for the saline bag. For those of you who don’t know IV poles, there’s a pole and a little carousel thingie that screws on at the top of the pole. We brought the carousel and left the pole. Oops. Drive back to LA? Certainly do-able but we didn’t want to.

Wait. Let me think. There’s a beautiful golf course here. The grounds  are lovely. Exceedingly well-kept. That mean only one thing. Landscaping and Maintenance must be top-notch. I called the Front Desk.

-Yes, I’d like to be connected with the person who oversees landscaping. (I figured where there are lawns, there’s PVC piping. And plenty to spare to create us a little makeshift pole.)

-Director of Operations? Excellent! Can you have him come to our room as soon as he’s available?

-What do I need him for? Well, we have a little situation here. Umm, I do kidney dialysis and I’ll be doing a treatment in the room and we forgot a little something and I think he may be of assistance given all the PVC piping that’s probably around….. (I could just tell this was heading into too -much -information country for the poor unsuspecting desk clerk). Oh? Fine! He’ll be right over? Novio, help is on the way!

Before we could say ” home hemodialysis” five times in a row, there was a knock on the door. Ben, the Director of Operations, entered. In a very upbeat way, he said, “So, how can I help you guys?” quietly checking out our machine set up on the nightstand, with the large hotel lamp removed to the floor beside it.

I took a breath, apologized for taking up his time  and launched into my very brief (hee hee) explanation of what dialysis does, why we’re here today, what we forgot and why I’m certain he can help us so that we don’t –

  1. have to drive back home to pick up said pole
  2. try to make last minute dialysis arrangements at the closest facility which would eat up a lot of hours OR
  3. return home with long sad faces.

“Wow,” said Ben, “No apologies- this is great. I think I can help. It’s the most creative thing I’ve been asked to do all week. I only get called in to help with really stubborn toilet issues.”

Turns out Ben’s wife is a dialysis nurse and he couldn’t wait to tell her this story when he got home. He not only found something that would work, but ended up disappearing to create a collapse-able IV pole that we could fit into our luggage to take on trips… which we did. Several times. Thank you, Ben.

Because of you and the lovely weather the next morning, I looked out the window and gazed out at the beautiful rolling hills of the golf course that stretched out just yards from our room’s deck. I turned to my Novio and said, “Novio, it’s so peaceful out there. I’d love nothing more than to stretch out on that soft luscious grass beside that big tree and stare up at the clouds with you.”

“Sounds great”, said Novio, “If you don’t mind golf balls whizzing by over our heads.”

There wasn’t a golfer or golf cart in sight. OK, maybe just in the distance. I think we’ll be fine. We seem to be a good distance from whizzing ball action.

And so we did. And we keep in our hearts a sweet sweet memory of lying on a beautiful bed of grass, gazing at the clouds and at each other, on a golf course, and being thankful for the angels in our midst.

So get out the salad bowl,  grab some fennel, avocado and tangerines and let’s make a salad to celebrate life.

Hello. I'm a fennel. You can call me Fats.

Hello. I’m a fennel. You can call me Fats.

cored fennel

I have a tough core. Please remove so you can digest me easily.

Mr. Fennel: I get complimented often on my fronds.

Mr. Fennel: I get complimented often on my fronds.

sliced fennel

Sliced fennel is great for salads or sauteing.

Hello. We're friends of Fats the Fennel. We're Mr. Avocado and Miss Lemon.

Hello. We’re friends of Fats the Fennel. We’re Mr. Avocado and Miss Lemon.

The beauty of the Pixies is they’re small (hence the name), yet sturdy, sweet and seedless. If you don’t live in an area where you can find Ojai Pixies (that’s OK, we can still be friends), find a comparable couple of seedless tangerines and instead of simply eating them, build a salad around them.

I'm an Ojai Pixie. That makes me both cute and popular. So there.

I’m an Ojai Pixie. That makes me both cute and popular. So there.

walnuts in fennel salad

Walnuts give this salad extra crunch.

If you like, add some dried fruit, like sour cherries, to add more flavor, texture and color contrast. I tried it, but found that with these little tangerines, the salad didn’t need anything else. This is one sensual salad. It’s got color, crunch, taste, and texture.

Fennel salad 2good


1 fennel (with fronds), cored and sliced thinly, reserving a frond or two
2 seedless tangerines, segmented
2 green onions, thinly sliced (or 1/4 red onion, chopped)
1 avocado, diced
1/4 c. (60 g.) walnut halves
2 T.  or several good pinches of fennel fronds (the wispy greens, not the fibrous stalk), roughly chopped
1 T.  (15 g.) dried fruit, like sour cherries, cranberries or raisins (very optional)
1/2 large lemon, juiced
1 T.  (15 ml.) olive oil
1 t. (5 ml.) Dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Place sliced fennel, tangerine segments, onion and avocado in bowl. Toss with a little sprinkle of lemon juice.

Whisk remaining lemon juice with oil and mustard in small bowl until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toast walnuts briefly in a small dry skillet until just aromatic, about 2-3 minutes, shaking pan the whole time.

Toss salad with dressing. Top with chopped fennel fronds, walnuts, and dried fruit, if using.

bb Note: This salad is equally delicious as is or with 2 0z. (50 g.) of crumbled goat cheese over the top

Serves 2-3.

Fennel Salad with Avocados and Tangerines


From → Fruit, Sides, Veggies

  1. Laura permalink

    What a creative idea and beautiful salad! Enjoy it as it looks delicious…

  2. I loved this salad. It was great to see you last Saturday at the FLBA meeting. What a priceless story, thanks for sharing.

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