Fast Flavorful Fennel Salad, Perfect for a Summer Feast
Fennel is a very under-utilized vegetable. I am not sure if it is because most people have not tasted it before or if they just can’t think of ways to use it. I rarely see it on restaurant menus and if I do it is always in an Italian restaurant. That is a shame because it is a wonderful and versatile vegetable. It is like a wide stalk of celery with a sweet flavor that has been kissed ever so gently with tarragon or licorice, but don’t worry if you don’t like licorice you still might like fennel. It can be eaten raw, braised, boiled and pureéd or even grilled. Look for white to light green bulbs that are free from blemishes and have lively looking tops that are green and crisp with leaves that look like dill. For this recipe I chose some beautiful organic fennel bulbs and used the tops to garnish the picture.
This recipe is a great replacement for coleslaw. It has a light, refreshing flavor and with a food processor can be made in minutes making it perfect for those impromptu BBQ dinners. The salad can be made the day before the event but I usually put it together right before I serve it and if you are grilling some meat put it together right before the meat goes on the grill and it will be perfect when the meat is ready.
- 1 large fennel bulb (about 1of a pound when the top is removed)
- 1 medium red onion (about ¼ of a pound)
- Wedges of tomato or orange sections for garnish
- Juice and Zest of 1 lemon (use the micro-plane)
- 1 garlic clove minced (use a garlic press if you have it this is one of the only times I will say to use it)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together to make a nice citronette (vinaigrette using citrus juice).
Use the thinnest slicing disk on your food processor to slice the fennel and the onion. I usually cut the fennel in half and remove the core so the sections fall apart, but this is not necessary since the core is not tough and can be consumed. If you don’t have a food processor with a slicing disk use a mandolin or a knife (if your knife skills permit, ask me for help if they don’t). Toss the fennel and onion with the vinaigrette and garnish with the tomato or orange sections, they will get too beat up if you toss them with the fennel. Let the flavors marry for 15 minutes or longer if you like. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary