Friday, January 23, 2015

Fennel, Apple and Celery Salad with Cilantro and Lemon

Generally, I have never been a big fan of salads.  I consider myself an alpha carnivore, preferring to eat meat over leafy greens.  If I have to have a side, it is usually a starch, such as potatoes or rice.  To be sure, I eat salads and cook vegetable side dishes, but  not as much as I should.

My beautiful Angel has made tremendous strides in opening me and my diet to salads.  This recipe is an example of that.  Before I met my Angel, I would not have thought of making a salad of fennel, apple and celery.   However, a few weeks back, we had dinner with Clare's parents and her father made a salad that included fennel.  The salad was very delicious.  It also got me to thinking about different salads that I could make for Clare which feature fennel.

Fennel is a very interesting ingredient.  The white bulbs with straight, green branches and feathery leaves sets this vegetable apart from others on a grocery shelf.   One would think it was related to any number of vegetables that sprout from bulbs.  However, fennel is from the Umbellifereae family, which means it is closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander.  Yet, the taste of fennel -- with its strong notes of anise -- is completely different than parsley, coriander and the like.  

The anise flavor of fennel pairs well with a variety of ingredients, most notably apples.  This basic pairing is what makes the salad work.  The use of celery, cilantro and lemons add levels of flavor to the salad.  The result is a delicious salad that has helped to further focus my attention to vegetables.

Recipe from Food Network
Serves 8

1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large apples, julienned
1 medium head of fennel, cored and thinly sliced
3 large ribs of celery, sliced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

In a large non-reactive bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add the apples, fennel, celery and cilantro.  Toss until well combined.  Taste and adjust the seasonings. 


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