recipe – shaved fennel, pear & walnut salad

recipe – shaved fennel, pear & walnut salad

If I could take one non-electric kitchen tool to a desert island, it would be my Swissmar mandoline.  Shaved coconut makes me happy.

But make no mistake, my mandoline and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love how thin it slices, I hate driving to the emergency room with my finger on a jar of ice.  Yes, there is an “Ambidextrous Food Safety holder” that holds your potato or whatever with prongs thus shielding your fingers, but come on… it’s just so much more fun to paper-thinly slice something when you’re holding it in your hand.

Was our relationship doomed to fail?

Fortunately Amazon’s “customers also bought” feature saved me yet again.  A cutproof glove you say?!  Do tell!

After searching through the myriad men-sized options (what… men are klutzier in the kitchen?), I finally found this extra-small cutproof glove that fits my mitt perfectly.  Yes it’s expensive, and yes, you only get one, but come on… wearing one white glove in the kitchen?  That’s some MJ pop star status.

Do yourself a favor, get one of these and use it during all your kitchen prep work.  You can be a chef and a hand model and you will have far fewer blood-tinged potato chips in your future.

But this post is about a salad…

A shaved fennel salad, to be exact.  If you haven’t tried fennel in a salad yet, stop being so boring already!  Raw fennel is awesome – it has a mild anise flavor and a wonderfully crisp texture.  It tastes best when shaved paper thin and paired with something sweet and equally crisp like pears.  Add a little crunch with the candied walnuts and you’ll be savoring a unique and refreshing salad in no time.

Just wear your cutproof glove so you don’t have to bring your salad to the E.R.

Shaved Fennel, Pear & Walnut Salad

Dressing

  • 2 parts white balsamic vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1 part maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 part olive oil
  • Kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Whisk together vinegar and maple syrup.  While whisking, add olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I prefer a more acidic dressing, so feel free to adjust the oil-sugar-acid ratios to suit your tastes.

Salad

  • 2 fennel bulbs, tough outer layers and stalks removed (reserve fronds for garnish)
  • 2 Bartlett pears
  • 1 bag mixed baby greens
  • Candied walnuts, broken into smaller pieces – I love the ones from Trader Joe’s, crunchy but not too sweet, they’re great to have on hand for salads and cheese plates

Using a mandoline on the thin-cut blade, shave fennel crosswise.  Slice pears in quarters, then shave each quarter lengthwise.  Toss mixed baby greens with dressing, then add fennel and pear and toss gently to combine.  Top with candied walnuts and a few twists of fresh cracked pepper, garnish with fennel fronds.

Make Ahead Options:  You need to assemble this salad pretty close to serving time – if left out longer than 30 minutes, the fennel and pear will start to brown.  If you want to prep earlier in the day, put the shaved fennel and pear in an airtight container, sprinkle with lemon juice (about half a lemon will do), seal tightly and refrigerate.  Prep and refrigerate the dressing as well.  You can do this about 3-4 hours in advance, then toss with dressing and assemble everything at the last minute.

Best mandoline on the market?  I’ve tried three – Oxo, Norpro and Swissmar – and without a doubt the Swissmar is the best, pretty affordable at <$40 too.

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One Response to recipe – shaved fennel, pear & walnut salad

  1. Pingback: ringing in the new year – our first shabbat sunday of 2012 | CasaResnick

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