Put water on for blanching the fennel – you’ll need at least 1 ½ quarts of water in a medium saucepan. Add a pinch of salt.
Remove the zest from the lemon and orange. I recommend a pull zester as the faster tool for this, but go ahead and use a hand grater such as a Microplane, if you prefer.
Reserve a few medium pieces of fennel frond for garnish, if you like. Finely chop the enough of the remaining fronds to produce a heaping teaspoon. If using a pull zester, chop the fronds with the pulled citrus zest. Trim the fennel bulb and thinly slice, removing all tough portions.
In a small microwaveable bowl or one-cup glass measure, combine the chopped fennel fronds, zest, mustard, juice of ½ of the orange, the garlic cloves and a pinch of salt. Heat in the microwave with medium power for about 30 seconds; give it a good stir and microwave again for another 30 seconds. Add the juice of half of the lemon and a bit of ground pepper. Let the dressing rest while you blanch the fennel.
When the water comes to a boil, add the sliced fennel. Let cook for about 3 minutes.
Drain and briefly run cold water over the fennel. Shake it well to remove any excess water.
Strain the dressing, pressing on the solids. Toss the fennel with the dressing. Check for salt and pepper, adding more to taste. Garnish with reserved bits of frond.
For a fall or winter meal, braise the sliced fennel in a touch of olive oil with the crushed garlic and about ½ cup of water. Remove the garlic before tossing with the dressing (made as described above, adding more olive oil if you wish). Serve just warm or at room temperature.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)