Chef Craig von Foerster, Executive Chef at the award-winning Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, CA shared this recipe with us at a Chef Walk he led at our Farm Stand. It combines fresh butter lettuce and fennel with a Yogurt Dressing for a study in contrasts that's utterly delicious. If the Sweet Gem variety isn't readily available, you can substitute any green butter lettuce. Just make sure the leaves are vibrantly green and fresh; avoid wilted or damaged heads. Or try Earthbound Farm Organic Butter Lettuce Leaves, Bibb Lettuce Leaves, or Heirloom Lettuce Leaves; all are whole leaves of organic lettuce, pre-washed for extra convenience.
Cut the lettuces apart at the base, wash the leaves, and spin dry. Set aside.
Toss the almonds with oil and salt, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.
Remove the core and green tops from the fennel bulb. Peel off the tough outer layer and slice the rest thinly on a mandoline.
Combine the lettuce, almonds, fennel, and feta cheese together in a salad bowl, and dress liberally with the yogurt dressing (use more or less to taste). Toss and serve.