I had never tried fennel before, so when we were at the grocery store one night Aaron put it in the basket. I wasn’t too sure how to utilize it, so I started adding it to everything I made that week. (I added it to chicken salad for lunch one day and I liked it in that).
All parts of the fennel are edible. The bulb, stalks, and leaves. Fennel has a similar texture and crunch to celery and tastes like black licorice. It’s quite strange to eat a vegetable that tastes like candy.
As I was making dinner one night, I remembered an interesting celery salad I saw Lidia Bastianich make on her cooking show and thought the fennel might work pretty well in it. Lidia’s recipe didn’t have pickled onions and she used mozzarella instead of feta.
Adding it to this salad with celery, feta, and walnuts was a nice pairing. The crispness of the fennel and celery, tang from the vinaigrette and pickled onions, saltiness from the cheese, and bitter and buttery notes of the walnut make the salad full of flavors and textures. This salad is light and crunchy and is a nice healthy side dish to a meal. I also like it because it uses celery in an interesting way that’s not in a mirepoix or for Ants on a Log!
Fennel & Celery Salad – Serves 6, Cook Time – 20 minutes
2 stalks fennel with the leaves, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ feta crumbles
1/3 cup pickled onions, sliced
Italian or mustard vinaigrette
Slice the fennel and celery into roughly 1/8 to ¼ inch slices and put in a mixing bowl. Add the chopped walnuts, feta, and pickled onions to the bowl. Toss to combine. A little before serving the salad, toss with the vinaigrette. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with some of the chopped walnuts and feta.
Mustard Vinaigrette – Makes 1 cup, Cook Time – 10 minutes
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined (emulsified). Alternatively, you can put all the ingredients into a jar and shake until the vinaigrette is combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.