I recently heard that Seattleites own the most sunglasses per capita than anywhere else in the US and I had to laugh. It’s not because we need them (le duh), but because we lose them sometime during the seemingly endless season of gray, only to snatch another pair up within a millisecond of that blinding yellow orb peeking out from behind a rain cloud. No doubt, I own more than 6 pairs myself—not that I currently know where any of them are.
Many a school field day, family camping trip and BBQ cookout has been ruined by the ever looming rainclouds and yet, no one here carries an umbrella. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we are optimistic, but we certainly appreciate the appearance of the sun more than anyone around.
The first day of spring in yesterday was uncharacteristically beautiful. The cherry trees are blossoming and the daffodils have popped up out of nowhere; I even wished I had dug out a pair of sunglasses to shield my tender eyes from the sweet, sunny light.
Alas, the juicy strawberries aren’t here yet, but something bright and fresh tasting was certainly in order. I had just picked up some fresh turmeric and decided to whisk it into a bright yellow vinaigrette to celebrate the season. Turmeric is the new “it-girl” of aromatics; with it’s almost neon color and subtle earthy flavor, its best known as a key flavor in traditional Indian curry powder, but is suddenly in the spot light as a trendy, health-promoting ingredient.
The fresh version is distinctly sharper and brighter than its dry counterpart, with hints of ginger and citrus. It’s perfect in soothing tea, juices, smoothies, stir fries, sauces, vinaigrettes and anything else where a bright yellow color is welcomed.
Turmeric’s reputation as a powerful anti-inflammatory should not be overlooked, as well as its other beneficial effects as an antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-carcinogen. But there’s no need to get too dry and scientific here, the benefits of turmeric as a flavor and color enhancer are reason enough pick up a couple knobby fingers at your nearest ethnic market or high end grocery store.
A decidedly winter-friendly slaw of crunchy shaved fennel, paper-thin parsnips and sweet Fuji apples is given a springy update with the lemony turmeric dressing, going from white and blah to sunny with a quick toss of the tongs. Find your sunglasses people—spring is coming!
Fennel, Fuji Apple & Parsnip Slaw with Turmeric
Any crunchy vegetables would work in the slaw, such as red or green cabbage, carrots, kohlrabi, radishes, celery, etc. and Asian pears would make a delicious substitute for the Fuji apple.
Pro tip: freeze any extra turmeric, whole, in a zip-top bag and grate as much as you need while it’s still frozen, then pop the rest of the root back in the bag for later. This works for ginger and galangal too!
1 heaping tablespoon finely grated fresh turmeric (about 1 skinny, two-inch finger)
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh horseradish (or prepared horseradish from a jar)
1 small clove finely grated or minced garlic
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup lemon juice
Sea salt to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ large fennel bulb, thinly shaved (about 2 cups)
½ Fuji apple, julienned (about 1 cup)
1 large parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
Whisk together the turmeric, horseradish, garlic, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice and a healthy pinch of salt together in a medium bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil until thoroughly combined and set aside. Alternatively, the dressing can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.
Toss the fennel, apple and parsnip together in a large bowl, then drizzle on ¼ cup of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Taste the slaw for seasoning, add more salt if necessary, then serve immediately. Alternatively, the prepared slaw ingredients can be kept in ice water for a few hours before being drained, dried in a salad spinner and dressed.