One of our favorite ways to enjoy first-of-the-season apples beyond eating them out of hand, is in all sorts of fall-inspired salads—sometimes thinly sliced and simply tossed with spicy arugula, sometimes as one ingredient in a dense salad packed with roasted winter squash, farro, toasted nuts and more. Here we’ve combined it with a common companion—fennel—and roasted them both together to intensify their earthy fall flavors. Fresh herbs and lemon zest brighten and lighten the salad up. Toasted hazelnuts and goat cheese make it a little bit indulgent and totally irresistible. We serve the dish with roasted pork or chicken but it’s a filling meal on its own. —What We Eat Gals
baking apples (those that retain their structure when baked like Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Pinklady, etc.)
fennel bulbs with fronds
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
scallions, thinly sliced
hazelnuts, toasted, peeled and chopped
fresh goat cheese, crumbled (crumbled mild blue cheese would be delicious as well)
lemon, zest and juice
Preheat the oven to 425*F. Cut the fennel bulbs into 1-inch wedges, reserving the fennel fronds for finishing the salad. Cut the apples into similarly sized wedges. Spread the fennel on one parchment-lined sheet pan, and spread the apple on another. Drizzle both generously with olive oil, and season with salt, freshly cracked black peppers, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Roast the apple pan for 15 to 20 minutes, and roast the fennel pan for ~30 minutes, flipping each halfway through, until all are caramelized, golden brown, and tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on sheet pans.
Meanwhile, prep mint leaves and fennel fronds. Slice scallions. Toast, peel and, chop hazelnuts. Crumble goat cheese.
To finish the dish, carefully layer the roasted apples, roasted fennel, mint leaves, fennel fronds, sliced scallions, toasted hazelnuts and crumbled goat cheese on several layers on a shallow serving platter. Zest over 1 lemon and shower the whole thing with lemon juice and a drizzle of best quality extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy as a filling salad on its own or serve with roasted pork or chicken.