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Arugula, Apple, and Fennel Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and Three-Cheese Crostini

I'm back from vacation and back to cooking and trying to eat slightly lighter, which is why the first recipe I made from Valerie Bertinelli's new cookbook was Arugula, Apple, and Fennel Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and Three-Cheese Crostini.

I received a preview copy of Valerie's book and am impressed by the gorgeous photography, including Valerie herself who looks about 30 years old, helpful tips about ingredient substitutions and steps you can do ahead of time.

I've watched Valerie's show on Food Network for some time now and find her recipes simple, approachable, and quite appealing. The cookbook, called Valerie's Home Cooking, has the same feel to it.

Arugula, Apple, and Fennel Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and Three-Cheese Crostini

Reprinted with permission

1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups baby arugula
1 head Bibb lettuce, torn
1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, fronds chopped and reserved
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
8 (1/2-inch-thick) baguette bread slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk together the shallot, citrus juices, honey, mustard, salt, and white pepper; let stand for 2 minutes. Add the extra virgin olive oil in a slow, stead stream, whisking until blended. Set aside the dressing.
2. Toss together arugula, Bibb lettuce, apple, fennel bulb, and walnuts in a large bowl. Set aside the salad.
3. Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and lightly brush the tops with olive oil. Bake until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven.
4. Stir together the cheeses, lemon zest, and black pepper in a small bowl; stir in 1 tablespoon of the reserved chopped fennel fronds. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture onto each toasted bread slice, and return to the oven. Bake until the cheese slightly melts and the bread edges are crispy, 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Add the dressing to the salad, and toss. Divide the salad evenly among 4 plates, and serve with 2 crostini.

My variations:
1. I forgot to pick up feta in the grocery store: used grated Parmesan
2. I don't have white pepper: used black pepper
3. Sliced my baguette into thinner slices to make them easier to eat
4. Added tangerine segments

This was a great light lunch. I can't believe there was a time when I did not like fennel! 

I will be posting another recipe from Valerie's book soon: stay tuned!

Disclosure: I received the cookbook free of charge but am not compensated for this post. All thoughts/opinions are my own.