Butter lettuce, fennel + mandarin salad with tahini dressing (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Soft green lettuce, a faintly licorice fennel crunch, sweet and tangy citrus, and a sesame dressing create a standout combination. A friend’s garden provided small, seedless mandarins—but seedless tangerine or navel orange sections cut in half work too. Sriracha chili sauce adds a hint of sweet spiciness that balances the tahini’s slightly bitter nuttiness.

Ingredients
  • butter lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry
  • fennel bulb, trimmed top and bottom
  • seedless mandarins
  • tahini (sesame paste)
  • garlic, smashed and minced
  • parsley, minced
  • lemon juice
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • smoked paprika or chile powder (optional)
  • mild vinegar, such as white balsamic, rice vinegar, or fruit vinegar (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • toasted almonds, slivered or sliced
Method
  1. Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces and put in a large bowl. Quarter fennel bulb lengthwise and slice thinly crosswise; add to bowl. Peel mandarins, removing and discarding pith; separate into sections and add to bowl.
  2. Whisk together tahini, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and oil in a glass measuring cup or small bowl until well blended. Add water, if needed, to thin the mixture. Season with Sriracha, paprika and vinegar if using, and salt and pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Adjust seasonings. Top with almonds and serve.
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