A couple months ago, I asked my mom why she had never introduced us to fennel when we were kids. I told her I felt like I missed out because I only recently discovered it. At this point my mom confessed she'd never heard of it when we were kids. It was a sad moment, thinking of all those fennel recipes I'd missed out on tasting.
Always one to make up for missed opportunities, while leafing through my new cookbook Serving Up the Harvest, I noticed that fennel was one of the vegetables she highlights. Sure fennel is a mid- to late- summer vegetable. And the only place around I can get it is at the Meijer's in the next county. Still I was bound and determined I was going to try at least one of the fennel recipes in my new book. The heat seems to have broken around here, but the humidity is still killer, so I decided to go with the Fennel, Apple, and Pecan Salad. No cooking required.
This sweetness of the fennel plays against the tang of the buttermilk and the sour of the apple just perfectly. It's crunchy. It's cool. The toasted pecans really add some interesting accents to the texture and flavor. And frankly, it's kind of pretty. I like to think of it as a fennel slaw almost. It would go great with barbecue. I cut my fennel and apple small so that I could get bites that were fennel, pecan and apple all at the same time. And I'm glad I did.
Fennel, Apple, and Pecan Salad
from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cut into quarters, and thinly sliced
2 apples, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1 cup pecans, toasted
Chopped fennel fronds to garnish
To make the dressing, whisk together the buttermilk, scallions, oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.
Combine the fennel, apples, and pecans in a large bowl. Toss to mix. Pour in the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Garnish with the fennel fronds and serve.