Fennel can give character to a dull, ordinary dish. It can be pureed, grated and grilled, making it very versatile.
Chances are you're familiar with fennel as the source of fennel seed, not as a vegetable or herb, as I've used it in this salad. Also known as sweet anise, finocchio or Florence fennel, this variety of fennel is grown for the bulb that develops above the ground, with stalks topped by feathery leaves. Italians might serve fennel as part of an antipasto.
It is often used to stuff fish or add to fish soup. It has a very distinctive flavor of licorice. Here, it goes nicely with radishes, parsley and a ham such as prosciutto in a simple dressing.
Fennel, Radish and Parsley Salad With Prosciutto
Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 35 minutes plus 1 hour chilling
Use your favorite ham in place of the prosciutto, if you prefer.
1 fennel bulb
1 bunch radishes
1 bunch Italian parsley
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced
Trim any coarse or discolored parts from the bulb or stalks of the fennel and discard them. The feathery leaves of the fennel bulb are flavorful and add color to the salad. Cut the bulb and ribs (also called stalks) into thin slices. Place the slices in a large salad bowl. Use some of the fennel leaves and add them to the bowl.
Rinse the radishes and trim away the roots and the stem tops. Thinly slice the radishes and add them to the bowl. Rinse the parsley, shake it free of water and pick just the leaves off and add them to the bowl.
Tear the prosciutto slices into pieces and add them to the bowl.
Combine the lemon juice and olive oil. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste, then pour the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly to coat the ingredients.
Break the cheese into 2-inch pieces and sprinkle over the salad. Chill the salad for 1 hour, then serve it cold. Toss it again just before serving.
4 servings. Each serving: 294 calories; 792 mg sodium; 24 mg cholesterol; 24 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams protein; 3.01 grams fiber.
Bowl from Freehand, Los Angeles.