Seriously Simple: Fennel salad with lemon Parmesan dressing is zesty and refreshing

Seriously Simple: Fennel Salad With Lemon Parmesan Dressing Is Zesty And Refreshing
Ann Stratton/TNS

This refreshing winter salad embodies my Seriously Simple cooking philosophy.

Fennel, with its faint licorice flavor, is often shredded or thinly sliced and made into salads or side dishes. While you can find it year-round, I think of it as a cold weather vegetable. Look for a bulb with a smooth outer layer and no blemishes. The raw green and white bulb slices along with the feathery fronds combine into a fresh, light salad.

To slice the fennel bulb, you can either use a mandoline or a very sharp knife. I first quarter the fennel and remove the tough triangle at the base. If you are using a mandoline, make sure to use the food holder that attaches to the fennel, so you don’t cut yourself. You can adjust the thickness to your preferred liking. I use the OXO Simple Mandoline. If you don’t have a mandoline, use a very sharp knife to produce even slices.

I hope you’ll try this refreshing winter salad that embodies my Seriously Simple cooking philosophy. Bright, zesty citrus notes accent the crisp aromatic fennel. Adding freshly shredded Parmesan to the dressing and then garnishing with the nutty, fragile shards of Parmesan is not only delicious, but pretty to look at.

Feel free to add your own signature to this simple salad. Consider complementing the salad with white beans, shaved yellow or red pepper, red onion or sliced apples. Toasted walnuts add a surprising flavor and texture, and a sprinkling of assorted fresh herbs like Italian parsley, mint or chives add an herbal-garden freshness.

Serve this as a starter to a simple roasted chicken or meat loaf. It is also a welcome dish to a buffet of salads. And finally, it is a wonderful companion to a hearty mushroom soup for lunch or a light summer.

Fennel Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds)

For the dressing:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced chives
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper,
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese

To serve:

  • 1 ounce block Parmesan cheese
  • Black olive, for garnish

1. Trim the stalks and fronds from the fennel, reserving enough fronds to make 1/4 cup when chopped. Cut the bulb in quarters lengthwise and trim away the triangle of solid core at the base. Thinly slice the fennel with a mandoline or a sharp knife. Reserve.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, chives, reserved fennel fronds, salt and pepper; mix well. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until incorporated. Add the grated fresh Parmesan. Taste for seasoning.

3. Add the fennel and stir to coat. Arrange on a platter or serving plates.

4. Using a swivel vegetable peeler, shave large shards of the Parmesan block over the top of the salad. Add an olive for garnish. Serve immediately.

(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at