Fennel is one of those elusive and strange vegetables that rarely makes its way into the home cook's repertoire. First off, the fronds. What do you do with them? And then the bulb. How do you slice it? Then, the flavor hits with a subtle but decidedly anise-y kick...which many people find rather off-putting.
But fennel is easily tamed and tempered by lemon juice, giving the vegetable's almost monotone sweetness some bite. Toasted almonds and golden raisins round out the flavor profile, and frisée gives this salad its bulk and a great deal of texture. Altogether, a salad entirely worth coming back to time and again as fennel season wears on.
This recipe was inspired by one of Heidi Swanson's, where she marinates the fennel in lemon juice to soften and tame it. Here, I've used celery for added crunch, frisée instead of her arugula, golden raisins for a bit of sweetness, and Parmesan for a sophisticated salty tang. —petitbleu
Using a mandoline slicer or a very sharp knife, carefully cut the fennel and celery into paper thin slices. In a bowl, combine the fennel, celery, lemon juice, and olive oil and allow it to sit for 30 minutes or so.
Strain the fennel and celery, reserving the dressing. Set the fennel aside while you toss the frisée in the dressing.
Pile the dressed frisée on a plate and top with the raisins, almonds, fennel, celery, and parmesan shavings, if desired.
A southern girl with a globetrotting palate, I work alongside my husband John Becker to update and maintain the Joy of Cooking cookbook, website, and app. I love to bake, ferment, and preserve, and I spend an inordinate amount of time perusing farmers markets and daydreaming about chickens and goats.