Fennel Salad with Golden Beets and Apples


01 Apr Fennel Salad with Golden Beets and Apples

Fennel Salad with Maple Candied Pecans - TheMessyBaker.com

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Update: Sorry. The contest is closed. However, the fennel salad recipe remains open to anyone willing to give it a try.


As one of the world’s most gullible people, I hate April Fool’s Day.  Apparently watching me scramble for the binoculars is a hoot. And my reaction when I discover the rare bird at my feeder is actually stuffed? Priceless. But it’s not only family who gets a rise out of me. Last year a respectable Ontario food centre had me believing locally-grown hot-house pineapples were this close to hitting the stores. While the fake bird was private, I outed my pineapple ignorance publicly on Twitter. So, this year, to be safe, I decided not to open my email, read the news or pop over to any of the social networking sites before noon. But April Fools found me anyway.

I had written this blog post a month ago. Having arranged a special April Fool’s giveaway, I was on top of things and just sitting pretty until March ended. But when I went to my computer, the file was gone. I have never inadvertently lost a post in all my years of blogging. I’ve had the server crash mid-composition, but never has a saved file gone AWOL. Until today.

I should have known. Posting on April 1st was tempting fate. Even planning to post on April 1st was all that was required to set things in motion. When I tried to buy the fennel for this salad, which I was making for Book Club, I went to three stores before I learned that for some reason every grocer in the entire city had decided to start calling it “Anise”.  Fennel and anise are two separate things.

The curse expanded. As my friend drove me and the fennel salad to Book Club her car broke down. Then after waiting more than an hour for CAA we learn they had somehow deleted her call request.

While the Trickster seems to have been following this fennel salad around, I assure it’s worth trying. The fennel and mint are refreshing without being stringent. I swapped feta for the blue cheese. Do you think that was the issue?

Anyway, to make April Fool’s Day more palatable. I’m giving away not one but two copies of Glutton For Pleasure by Bob Blumer (aka the Surreal Gourmet). Nothing in this book is as it seems. The carrot cake is meatloaf, the French fries are sponge cake and even the wontons are stuffed with a slice of banana and a Rolo.

So, before we get to the fennel salad, here are the rules. For shipping purposes, winners have to live in Canada or the US. Given the fickle nature of this day, I’m abandoning the Random Number generator and relying on bias. Sway me. Make me laugh, make me cry. Just tell me an April Fools story or share your best fake food. Heck, make something up if you have to.

To enter, leave a comment either here, on my Facebook  Page or via Twitter. I’ll be making my decision on Monday.

In the meantime, enjoy some salad. If you can’t find fennel in the store, look for anise. They might be jerking you around.

Fennel Salad with Maple Candied Pecans - TheMessyBaker.com

Fennel, Golden Beet and Apple Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: North American
Prep / inactive time: 
Cook / active time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 to 6
If you can grate a block of cheese, you can make this salad. Apples, golden beets and fennel meet maple syrup, pecans, orange juice and blue cheese. A bit of mint rounds things off.
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) maple syrup
  • ½ cup (125 mL) pecan halves
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 large raw beet (ideally golden*), peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1 Fuji apple (or any other hard apple), peeled, cored, and coarsely grated
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely grated
  • ⅓ cup (80 mL) coarsely chopped fresh mint (stems discarded)
  • 4 ounces (125 g) Stilton (or another blue cheese), crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Pour maple syrup into a small bowl. Toss nuts in syrup, remove with a slotted spoon, and bake on aluminum foil or a cookie sheet for 10 minutes. The syrup will bubble, and once you take the nuts out of the oven and let them cool, the syrup will solidify. Reserve.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oil, vinegar, and orange juice. Whisk together, then add beet, apple, fennel, mint, Stilton, and nuts. Toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
You can save time by buying candied pecans.

If you're not a fan of blue cheese, substitute feta.

Excerpt printed with permission from Glutton for Pleasure: Signature Recipes, Epic Stories and Surreal Etiquette by Bob Blumer. (Whitecap 2010)

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No Comments
  • Elizabeth
    Posted at 10:20h, 01 April Reply

    This isn’t an April Fool’s joke, but rather a joke that we pulled on a friend of mine that lasted several years. We were young, and drinking for the first time. She went a little far, and didn’t remember anything the next day. Of course we had to take advantage of this; we told her she had gone running around my neighbourhood, chasing after my cat. We had her convinced of this for several years. Finally we decided to come clean, but I’m not sure if she believed that as much as she believed the joke. I think she figured by that point we were playing a joke on her.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:08h, 04 April Reply

      Kudos on keeping the joke going for so long. And bonus points for not making up a really, really embarrassing story like telling her she went streaking.

      Fun story. Thanks for sharing.

  • Melissa
    Posted at 11:04h, 01 April Reply

    I don’t have a an April Fools story, however it is my anniversary from leaving a crazy job one year ago, so really maybe the joke was on me…….but I just wanted to say that I have this book! I love it, it sits on my bedside table. Everytime I need a smile I pick up this book and read Bob’s story. I met him last fall at the gourmet wine and food festival. As he was calling it a nite and getting ready to high tail it out of his booth with a weary look on his face, I approached him and asked if he would have energy for one last picture. I told him I would understand if he declined as I was aware he had been a whirlwind PR tour. He smiled very boyishly and said ‘No I don’t mind one bit, C’mere.’ He signed my book and I thanked him for his graciousness. I have tickets to his show Live and Uncorked this weekend and I am gonna take my mom for her birthday. Good luck to the winner, it is a great book!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:10h, 04 April Reply

      Thanks so much for telling that story! Bob is a gracious guy so I’m not surprised to hear he autographed your book at the end of a long long festival.

      And I love that you keep the book by your bed. It is one of the happiest, fun-filled cookbooks I’ve read.

      Have fun at the live show! I’m jealous — in a good way.

  • Judith Rutty Godfrey
    Posted at 11:17h, 01 April Reply

    I think that my father’s favorite day in the entire year was April Fools Day! And each year my brother and I were vigilant, determined not to be caught ‘this year’! You’d think that by the age of 12 or 13 we would have been as savvy as we thought we really were. But no! I remember one year when the two of us were feeling pretty smug as we got ready for bed, completely un-fooled. PJ’s on, over tired from being on high alert all day, so just to brush teeth, hop into bed and soon it would be April 2nd. HA! The toothpaste was quickly squirted onto a toothbrush and popped into mouth……….YAK! Dear Dad had managed to shove about a 1/2 inch of mayonnaise into the top of the tube!! (Even it being Hellman’s didn’t make it better.)
    Lesson: the day ain’t over until….it’s 12:01 on April 3rd.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:12h, 04 April Reply

      Hilarious! I love the gag AND that he double-crossed you with the timing. Great story!

  • Judith Rutty Godfrey
    Posted at 11:22h, 01 April Reply

    What a ‘fool’ I am!!! I mean April 2nd!!!!!! Maybe that was Dad playing pranks from heaven??????

  • Sally - My Custard Pie
    Posted at 11:05h, 02 April Reply

    It’s my husband’s favourite day – he spent the whole morning chuckling at the pranks he was playing. None on me though – he does that most of the year! Not entering the giveaway as Dubai is too far from you but will make this salad …I’d be foolish not to.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:14h, 04 April Reply

      Thanks for sharing, even though you’re in Dubai. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment without hope of reward. You’re karma’s golden!

      Enjoy the salad. It’s quite a refreshing change of pace.

  • Lisa MacColl
    Posted at 11:55h, 04 April Reply

    My favorite “fake” food story happened when I was visiting my cousins in preparation for my Godson’s Christening. His mom was a little overwhelmed and by Saturday night, I’d taken over kitchen duties. My Godson’s older brother was 4 and had his nose significantly out of joint because of all the fuss about the screaming bundle.

    I enlisted his help to make omelettes. With true 4 year old distain, he announced that “he didn’t eat omelettes.” I motioned him close and said “but you don’t know the secret.” “What secret?” I then told him that he had to cross his heart not to tell the grown-ups. By then, curiosity had gotten the better of him, and he solemnly crossed his heart.

    I then told him, after checking behind me and even looking in the cupboards and broom closet for spies, that all an omelette was, was “fancy scrambled eggs with stuff in the middle.” He was suspicious of this, but I let him stand on a chair so he could see, as long as he kept the back of his legs against the back of the chair so that I could reach past him to turn the omelette. He discovered that it was indeed, fancy scrambled eggs with stuff in the middle. At dinner, in between giggles at our pulling one over on his parents, he gobbled every bite of the “omelette.”

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:15h, 04 April Reply

      Getting a kid to eat an omelet is my kind of gag. No. Wait. It’s more like a miracle. Love how you described it — making it into something familiar. Nice job, Lisa.

  • Peggy
    Posted at 09:26h, 05 April Reply

    When I was a kid, we actually had a power outage on April Fool’s Day. My family was just sitting around playing board games, when all of a sudden, my dad says “turn on the TV”. The power was still out, so I was confused, but being a good child and doing what I was told, I went up to the TV and tried to turn it on. Of course, it never came on, but my family seemed to get a good chuckle out of it. To this day, my parents still tell that story in front of guests and have a good laugh over it. They just love to embarrass me. =)

  • Sharon
    Posted at 13:32h, 05 April Reply

    When I was a kid my Mom made a faux apple pie using soda crackers and cinnamon. I helped her make it and was in on the joke but my brothers and sister happily ate away, not realizing there were no real apples in the pie. Wish she still had the recipe – it would be fun to try it again and see if the trick still worked!

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