If you’re making a salad for Thanksgiving, it is one area where you can get creative without too many protests from the culinary traditionalists.
Wash 1/2 lb. spinach leaves by soaking and lifting the leaves out of the water. Spin dry.
Cut the stems and fronds off 1 Fennel bulb. Reserve a small amount of the fine leaves. Save the stems for use in making broth, if you like.
Cut 1 fennel bulb in half, then use a paring knife to remove the core at the bottom. Very thinly slice the bulb or use a mandoline. Cut the longest slices in half.
Cut 2 mandarins in halves. Juice 1 half. Use a grapefruit spoon or knife to scoop the segments from the 3 halves out.
Make a dressing with 3 T. red wine vinegar, 1 T. fresh mandarin juice, and 4 T. olive oil plus salt and pepper to taste. Toss the fennel with the dressing and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Toast 1/2 C. slivered almonds in a pan or toaster oven.
Toss the spinach with the fennel, oranges, almonds, and 1/2 C. dried cranberries. If you like, top with crumbled goat cheese (chevre).