This is a very simple salad recipe my son Will asked about so I though I’d write it down for him here. What’s nice about this (besides being tasty and pretty easy to do) is it travels really well, so it makes it a good thing to bring over for a dinner party or a pot luck or something.
This is also very VERY adjustable, so I’m not bothering to put down too much in terms of measurements here.
Fennel bulb(s). Sometimes I see this called “anise” in the produce section. I generally think one big fennel bulb is enough for four servings, but more is not bad. Be sure to keep the pretty and tasty fronds!
Lemon juice, fresh of course. For a one bulb salad, I’ll use the whole lemon.
Good olive oil.
Good and freshly grated parmesan cheese–don’t get the pre-shredded stuff.
Salt and Pepper to taste
Italian flat leaf parsley (optional)
Balsamic vinegar glaze (optional)
- Prepare the fennel. To do that, cut off the fronds (though save the tops for garnish) so you’re just left with the bulb itself. Cut it in half so you slice through the middle of the core, which isn’t edible. Then cut out the core, being careful to keep the layers of fennel together. This is also when you would discard any brown or nasty parts on the outside layer of fennel.
- If you have a mandolin slicer (good for you!), slice the fennel thinly; I usually go with a 1/16th inch setting on mine. If you don’t have a mandolin slicer or you’re just too lazy to get it out, no problem: just slice it as thin as you can with a sharp knife. Pile the fennel up into a salad bowl.
- Chop up the reserved fennel fronds (and parsley if you’re using it), add about half of it to the fennel in the salad bowl and then give it a toss.
- In a small jar with a lid or plastic storage container, add the juice of the lemon, a bit more than an equal amount of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Put on the lid and shake it, and then give it a taste to adjust. If you’re going to eat it right away (or within about 30 minutes or so), you can add the dressing to the fennel and toss; if you’re taking that salad someplace, keep the dressing in the container and take it with you.
- Finely grate parmesan cheese. This is to taste of course, but for a one bulb salad, I will use a microplane grater (so the cheese is very thin) and grate up about a cup worth of cheese. If you’re not going anywhere, go ahead and grate the cheese right into the salad bowl; if you are traveling, put that cheese into a plastic baggy or similar container.
- Toss the salad together. It’s delicious right away, but it will hold up well tossed up for at least an hour, longer if you put it in the fridge. When I’m feeling “fancy,” I’ll add a little garnish of balsamic vinegar glaze too because it is tasty and looks nice.