There's no doubt fall is here which means a new selection of local produce. Arugula, fennel and pear are gracing the outer isles of natural markets and make a refreshing combination when paired together. A light lemon, honey dressing adds a touch of sweetness to the peppery arugula, creating another layer of depth to this salad.

I have never really experimented much with fresh fennel in the past because the thought of a licorice tasting bulb, just never appealed to me. Don't get me wrong, I like licorice but tend to gravitate towards it in its sweet candy form.

While getting some groceries at the food co-op today, a sandy blonde gentleman was restocking fresh fennel that looked like something out of a Dr. Suess book. Its wispy vibrant green fronds, dancing in the cool air immediately caught my attention so I thought I'd buy one to experiment with and see if I liked it. Turns out, I love it! The licorice flavor is very mild and the bulb light and crisp. I will definitely be using more fennel in the kitchen. Not only is it tasty, but fennel is rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium, manganese and is an anti-inflammatory food with some very powerful antioxidants. This recipe is a nutritional powerhouse and a great way to start any meal. Enjoy!

Arugula salad w/ shaved fennel, pear and slivered almonds
(serves 4-6)

6 cups fresh arugula, washed
1 medium fennel bulb, shaved
1/2 medium anjou pear, shaved
1/4 cup raw slivered almonds
1/4 cup expeller pressed olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 tablespoon raw honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground

Make dressing
1. In small mixing bowl whisk lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil until dressing is well combined.
1. In large mixing bowl add arugula, fennel, pear and slivered almonds. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately