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Shaved Fennel, Green Apple, and Pecorino Romano Salad

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

I grew up in an Italian household in upstate New York, where my mother served simple salads that involved little more I than fresh raw vegetables--anything from cauliflower to fennel--tossed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Here I've built on that foundation by adding green apple, lemon zest, and parsley. High-quality extra virgin olive oil is key to this salad's success.

Serves4

CostInexpensive

Easy

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseAppetizer, Side Dish

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Halal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian

EquipmentMandoline

Five Ingredients or LessYes

MealDinner, Lunch

MoodStressed, Tired

Taste and TextureCrisp, Crunchy, Fruity, Salty, Sharp, Sweet, Tart

Type of DishFirst Course Salad, Salad, Vegetable

Ingredients

  • 2 medium fennel bulbs
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • About 1½ ounces pecorino Romano, shaved with a vegetable peeler (½ cup shavings)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Chop off the fronds where they meet the body of one fennel bulb. Halve the fennel, then thinly slice it, using a mandoline or a very sharp, thin-bladed chef's knife. Repeat with the other bulb. You should have 2 cups of slices. Set them aside. Chop 1 tablespoon of the fronds and set it aside separately. Discard the remaining fronds.

  2. Put the fennel and apple slices in a bowl. Add the pecorino Romano, lemon zest, ¼ cup olive oil, and parsley. Toss gently. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.

  3. Arrange the salad on a large, chilled serving plate. Drizzle more olive oil generously over the top, and scatter with the chopped fennel fronds just before serving.

  4. VARIATIONS

  5. If you can't find pecorino Romano cheese, or simply prefer Parmigiano-Reggiano, by all means substitute it.

  6. Crisp, sweet pears, such as Bosc, are a good autumnal replacement for the apples.

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