“The fennel is beyond every other vegetable delicious. It greatly resembles in appearance the largest size celery, perfectly white, and there is no vegetable equals its flavour. It is eaten at dessert, crude, and with, or without dry salt, indeed I preferred it to every other vegetable, or to any fruit.” Thomas Jefferson
One taste of fennel and it’s easy to agree with Thomas Jefferson. If you haven’t enjoyed fennel in awhile, there’s no better time as these are the last days of fennel season until fall when they’ll reappear once again at local farmers’ markets. Actually I was quite surprised to see such gorgeous fennel at our local grocery store the other day. Into my bag it went. As soon as I got home I began researching recipes for turning that fennel into something special. It almost became roasted fennel, as roasting makes every vegetable even more delicious.
Then I found a recipe for a Thanksgiving salad that featured fennel and sunchokes. Hmm, as it is spring and not fall, I made some substitutions—replacing the sunchokes with some bright red spring radishes and part of a crunchy-sweet jicama (HEE-kah-mah). With each of the veggies very thinly sliced, a light coleslaw came to mind—a delightful springtime slaw with a fresh lemon juice and rice vinegar vinaigrette.
“The fennel is beyond every other vegetable delicious”
Resembling licorice-flavored celery, fennel is delightfully crisp and crunchy and rich in vitamins A and C. Fennel is at its best during its season from fall through early spring.
Use the green stalks in place of celery in soups and stews, and the lacy fronds as a delicate garnish or chopped as an herb similar in use to dill and parsley. Slice the creamy white bulb top to bottom, leaving a bit of the root end in place when you grill it, removing the root end and possibly the core when slicing fennel for salads. For this slaw, I left the core in place as it was so thinly sliced.
Sweet and crisp jicama (native to Mexico and Central America), is a vegetable to add to your repertoire if you haven’t already. I imagine that if Thomas Jefferson knew of jicama, it would also have been one of his favorite vegetables. It certainly is one of mine.
Remove the brown peel of the jicama with either a knife or a vegetable peeler to reveal the white, delicately sweet and crunchy interior. Enjoy jicama’s crunch and minimal calories fresh in salads and crudités platters or perhaps cooked in stir-fries. Although often available all year, jicama’s “season” runs from December to June.
An apple a day
What a delicious way to get our daily apple. I’ve prepared this salad with a variety of red apples, such as Pink Lady, Daisy Girl, Honey Crisp and Galas. I suggest using red apples for their color and taste, however, should you prefer green apples they will also work.
Have no fear, the Cuisinart #12 slicing disc is here!
Wow! This was a first for me. I was able to very thinly slice each of the ingredients with the #12 slicing blade. Even though each slice is not picture perfect, from the photo below they sure look picture perfect. When you take a little care in placing the veggies in the processor, the results are quite spectacular and very quick and easy to achieve.
Serves 4 as an entrée, 8 as a side salad
2 tablespoons seasoned, lite rice vinegar
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion, both white and green parts
3 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced
2 organic red-skinned apples, cored and very thinly sliced
1 cup jicama, very thinly-sliced juliennes
7-8 cups fennel, bulbs trimmed, cored and very thinly sliced (1-2 fennel bulbs)
In a large bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients in the order given.
Use the #12 slicing disc of a food processor or a mandoline to very thinly slice each of the vegetables. Toss them into the dressing immediately after slicing (this is especially important for the apples and fennel to keep them from discoloring).
Season the slaw with additional salt and pepper to taste. Let the slaw sit for about 15 minutes before serving for the best flavor.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe without images.