Grape, Toasted Almond and Shaved Fennel Salad with Vanilla-Grape Vinaigrette

Grape, Toasted Almond and Shaved Fennel Salad with Vanilla-Grape Vinaigrette

From: Chef Scott Samuel, CIA Greystone, St. Helena, CA. Yield: 8 servings.

Grape Vinaigrette:

8 oz. green grapes

½ vanilla bean, split

2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

2 tsp. lime juice

¼ cup olive oil

¼ tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. kosher salt

Salad:

1 cup green grapes, halved

1 cup red grapes, halved

1 fennel bulb, cored and shaved thin, fronds reserved

½ cup almonds, sliced and toasted

2 oranges, cut into supremes

2 tsp. chives, minced

For grape vinaigrette: Place grapes in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve pressing the solids to get as much pulp as possible. Measure out 1 cup of puree.

In a small saucepan, combine ¾ cup of grape puree and the split ½ vanilla bean and reduce down to about ¼ cup. Remove from the heat and place in a small mixing bowl. Scrape out any seeds from vanilla bean into the bowl. Add the white balsamic vinegar, honey and lime juice. Whisk to combine.

While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil to form an emulsion. Season with cayenne and kosher salt. Set aside for the salad.

For salad: Cut the grapes in half and set aside. Toast the almonds at 325°F for about 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Core fennel and shave against the grain with a sharp knife or peeler. Cut oranges into supremes by cutting peel off and carefully cutting out the segments, leaving membrane behind.

To chill: Serve 8 salad plates. Combine the grapes, fennel, almonds and half the grape vinaigrette in a mixing bowl and toss to combine. Drizzle each plate with a small amount of remaining dressing and top each with a small mound of grape salad. Top with 3 orange supremes and a sprinkle of minced chives. Serve cold and fresh.