I always thought I hated fennel because I am vehemently anti-licorice. And yet every time I saw it in the store I wanted so badly to like it. It’s just so fresh and crunchy and delicious looking. A couple of weeks ago I saw the pile of fennel bulbs in the co-op, with their feathery little leaves, and I gave in. I brought my little fennel bulb home and decided to make a salad. As I chopped off the stalks I caught a whiff of that licoricey scent and thought, “Why did I buy this? I hate fennel!” But started slicing the bulb anyway, and I tasted a piece. And you know what? It really doesn’t taste like licorice at all. It tastes fresh and crunchy and delicious. Now I’m hooked. That night I ate an enormous pile of this salad. Two days later I made it again for a dinner party and it was a big hit. And I made it again last night. I can’t get enough of this stuff.
- One bulb fennel
- juice and grated zest of half a lemon
- about 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- about 1/2 a teaspoon finely chopped preserved lemon peel (optional)
- salt and freshly ground pepper
In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and preserved lemon (if using). Add salt and pepper to taste. If you are using the preserved lemon, taste the dressing first before adding salt as the preserved lemon is pretty salty all by itself.
Cut the stalks off fennel bulb and peel away the outer layer if it’s brown or bruised. Reserve a few little bits of the leaves for garnish. Slice the bulb crosswise as thinly as you can. If you have a mandolin now is the time to use it. Pour the dressing over the fennel and sprinkle the lemon zest and fennel leaves on top.