Fennel, apple, and arugula salad

(Béatrice peltre)
January 9, 2008

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Serves 4

Fresh fennel is often braised or sauteed, but also good raw, when its crisp texture and anise-like flavor are revealed. Shave the bulb paper-thin and pair it with grapefruit, oranges, tart green apples, or other acidic fruits, and fragrant herbs. In salads, fennel also works perfectly with finely cut radishes, prosciutto, and aged Parmesan or pecorino. Buy smaller, tender bulbs for salads and, if you like, use the feathery fronds as a garnish.

1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
1 tablespoon white or regular balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or parsley
2 small fennel bulbs, feathery fronds cut off
1 green apple, cored
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 bunch arugula, stems removed or 3 cups mixed greens, rinsed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino

1. In a dry skillet, toss the almonds, shaking the pan constantly, for 1 minute or until they are roasted.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add the tarragon or parsley; set aside.

3. With a small knife, remove the core at the base of each fennel bulb. With a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice the bulbs paper thin. Do the same with the apple. Squeeze the lemon juice on the apples; set aside.

4. In a large bowl, toss together the fennel and apples. Add half the dressing and toss again. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes for the flavors to mellow.

5. Add the arugula to the fennel mixture and toss gently with the remaining dressing and the cheese. Arrange on 4 salad plates and sprinkle with the almonds. - Béatrice Peltre