In this case, it was the birthday that was big, but the salad could be, too.
You have to admire a woman who insists on making the salad herself at her own catered birthday party, as my friend Lisa did. Especially when she also chooses to use our dressing!
The salad can be any size you want, it’s just that easy. If there’s one particular ingredient you like a lot – heap it in. You don’t like another – leave it out.
But the key here is the combination of the flavors – the aromatic fennel, the sweet oranges – and all the while the spinach provides a mellow base, the perfect canvas on which all the other ingredients can shine. It’s also beyond easy, so great for a party where you can keep making more as it is gobbled up (which is exactly what happened at Lisa’s party).
This salad was originally made to serve a big crowd. I’ve scaled it down in size to feed a family of four. Even though it’s a smaller version of what Lisa served at her party, this is forever known as the BIG Birthday Salad.
(Whether she was celebrating her 21st, 30th, 40th or 50th birthday, I’ll never tell!)
Add the lettuce, fennel, and mandarin oranges to a deep bowl. Spoon the dressing on top. Stir gently, until salad is well-coated. Scatter the almonds on top. Serve immediately.