One of the great things about salad is that you can put just about anything in it (within reason). That makes it a useful vessel for using up ingredients that might otherwise go bad and have to be tossed.
With this salad, my goal was to maximize using up some odds and ends from other dishes: the parsnips from the Caramelized Parsnip Cake, the radicchio from the Chicory Salad, the pecorino romano from the Orecchiette with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and the fennel from...well, I don't know why I had fennel in the 'fridge, but I wanted to use it too.
I'd never had parsnips raw before, but I figured I could use them like carrots. I peeled them and then shredded the outer layer, being careful not to use the tough, bitter core. I used two, because that's all I had left, but I think the salad could have used more.
Using up ingredients in a salad shouldn't just be a potluck of flavors though. You have to be strategic about what you're pairing. The radicchio is a bitter flavor, the fennel a little too. The raw parsnips are a strong flavor that's a little bitter, a little sweet. To sweeten the mix, I used dried cranberries and also put some agave syrup in the dressing. Finally, I added some crunch with toasted pecans.
This would make a nice side salad accompaniment to pasta or, with some protein (chicken, bacon or beans) a good main course dinner.
Salad with Parsnips, Fennel, Radicchio, Cranberries and Pecans
By A. Huddleston
1/3 cup pecan halves, toasted
3 or 4 small parsnips, peeled, cored and shredded
1/4 fennel bulb, finely sliced
3/4 cup torn radicchio leaves
2 or 3 cups Bibb lettuce (about half a head)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Shredded pecorino romano, to taste
(optional, add 3/4 lb. sautéed chicken breast, cooked bacon or chickpeas)
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp agave syrup (could substitute honey)
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with salad. Serve in bowls with chicken, bacon or beans, if desired.