Bon Appétit (March 2010)
Fennel is one of those vegetables that we never know quite what to do with. We've really liked it the few times we've cooked with it, either in a Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin or in Baked Chicken with Fennel and Apples.
But it's never the kind of vegetable we're likely to just pick up in the produce aisle.
This salad just may change that. It's delicious and fresh, but still hearty and substantial. And best of all, it taught us that you don't have to bake or braise fennel -- it's extremely delicious served raw.
Zach's parents were in town last weekend, so on Sunday night we invited a couple friends to join all of us for dinner. We wanted to start off with a salad, but we knew we wanted something a little different. When we saw this salad, we knew it was just what we were looking for.
To slice the fennel "paper-thin" as the recipe calls for, we hauled out our mandoline. It worked like a charm, but you could also easily slice the fennel with a knife (and some patience). In fact, we did use a knife for the celery -- the mandoline seemed only to macerate it, to shred it, rather than produce even, thin slices.
The final result is very good. The fennel, celery, lemon and parsley make for a salad that's extremely fresh-tasting and bright. The licorice flavor of the fennel adds a sweetness, and the pumpkin seeds lend a nice flavor and crunch as well.
One note: Don't think of the Parmesan as a garnish here. We found that the cheese was a key component in the salad. It gave everything a much-needed saltiness and a really nice counterpoint to all the other flavors.
All in all, this salad just struck all the right notes with us. It was a big hit with Zach's family, and our friends really enjoyed it, too.
And best of all, we've now added raw fennel to our culinary arsenal!
• 3 celery stalks, cut crosswise into paper-thin slices
• 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, halved vertically, sliced paper-thin
• 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
• 1/4 cup toasted salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese shavings (about 1 1/2 ounces)
• Combine celery, fennel, parsley, and pumpkin seeds in large bowl. Whisk oil and lemon juice in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper; toss with vegetables. Toss in most of cheese; top with remaining cheese.