9pm supper for one/Late Foodie Tuesday: I made this beautifully simple fennel salad but forgot my camera so you'll have to take my word for it.

I hadn't had much experience with fennel before I started working at G.  Mostly the chefs there braised or sauteed it, and I decided I didn't like the texture or the flavor - too stringy and unpleasant, like celery, but even tougher.  

I've been kind of flirting with the idea of giving fennel another try, mostly because I see it so often in the market, and because the frond-y part of it resembles dill, which is one of my favorite herbs.  Finally I figured maybe fennel would taste better raw and sliced paper-thin, like green bell peppers do (I hate green peppers cooked.  So brash - yuck!).  So I bought a bulb the other day and figured I'd find a way to make it work.
Let me tell you: if you think you hate fennel, try it shaved, or sliced paper-thin, in a bright and fresh salad.  You might need a mandolin to get the job done, or if you're careful like me, you can just slice it yourself.  

I took a cue from my go-to Molly Wizenberg, and also the lady at Simply Recipes, both of whom I can rely on to bring me simple and delicious recipes.  I knew what I had to do:
  • Trim, wash, and slice one fennel bulb paper-thin
  • Juice a lemon (which I got fresh from my coworker's tree)
  • Make a dressing with the lemon juice, some good Spanish olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped parsley (which I grow right in my kitchen).  I like to whip the dressing separately before tossing in with the salad to kind of "fluff" it up.
  • Add some bright and colorful watermelon radish, sliced thinly, for contrast.
  • Toss everything together with some grated parmesan cheese
I have to say it was a beautiful thing when I was done.  the slices of fennel were layer-y and translucent, but had a strong flavor of licorice and a pleasing crispety-crunch.  The lemon did a lot to cut through the strong herbiness of the fennel, and the parmesan gave it this yummy savory quality that made me want to gobble up a giant bowlful of the salad.  

Instead, I exercised some restraint and ate half of the salad I made with half a pita bread and some Costo chicken.  Dee-lish.

5 responses
Looks lovely! And, dude, I miss Costco chicken...
I know. Now it's going to take me the rest of the week to finish this darn bird. Will probably make white chicken chili with it!
i love fennel salads! i usually make mine with orange slices...so light and refreshing. :) pita bread shot looks great!
@Maggie Ooh orange would be great, what a good idea.  The pita bread shot I got off Google image search because I didn't have my camera - so it's not mine :)
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