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Author Notes: This salad is a light and delicate first course when fennel and crisp apples are in season in your farmer's market. Slivers of gruyere and toasted pralines give the salad a satisfying heft and earthiness. It has become a quick family favorite that I whip out for that unexpected guest while dinner is still sizzling on the stovetop. —lloreen
- 1 very large fennel bulb (or 2 medium)
- 1 crisp apple such as fuji
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- 1/2 cup pralines
- 1/4 cup shaved gruyere cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme (or .5 tsp dried)
- 1 dash salt
- Cut the tops and hard bottom off the fennel bulb, then slice it into thin slivers using a mandoline. Quarter and deseed the apple, then slice it into thin half-moon slivers with your mandoline. The slices should be about 1/4 inch think or thinner. Use the mandoline to sliver your gruyere into thin strips.
- Over medium high heat, toast the pralines, shaking constantly until they start to brown and smell nutty. Remove immediately to a cool surface before they burn. When they have cooled, crumble the pralines with your hands over the salad and sprinkle the chopped mint.
- Whisk your dressing, then lightly toss the salad.
- (You need to assemble this salad and eat it right away so the apples will not discolor. If you need to, you can assemble and dress it, leaving out the apple until the last minute.) Alternatively, sprinkle the apple slices with about 1/2 the lemon juice).