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Fennel, Pear and Walnut Salad with Reggiano Parmesan

I’ve changed parts of this recipe (that I recently found) because I made “newbie” mistakes.

First, I didn’t read the recipe close enough so when it said “white balsamic vinegar,” I read balsamic vinegar which I already had in my cupboard. Second, the recipe called for white pepper and I read “pepper” which I, again, already had in my cupboard. That’s what happens when you try to find a new recipe quickly.

I think the original recipe was trying to make the salad look “white.” But you know what?  It turned out great!. The recipe below includes the changes I made to the original. Oh — one last thing. This was supposed to be a vegan salad but I used REAL cheese. So, if you want it to be vegan, just use soy cheese or leave the cheese out.

Ingredients for the salad

  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced or shaved
  • 2 pears, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes or so
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
Ingredients for the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground fennel seeds

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine the walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and the agave syrup in a small bowl and mix the ingredients well.
  2. Add the salt and pepper to your taste.
  3. Grind the fennel seeds and add them to the dressing. I used my small coffee grinder (cleaned, of course) to grind the fennel seeds and it worked great.
  4. Whisk everything together and set this dressing aside.
  5. Chop the walnuts, toast them and put them in a small bowl until needed.
  6. Slice the core (bottom) of the fennel.
  7. Cut the fennel bulb in half and slice it thinly.
  8. Slice the pears thinly (with or without the peel, to your delight!).
  9. Mix the pears and fennel slices together with a small bit of dressing in them to coat it (to avoid discoloration).
  10. Sprinkle the walnuts and cheese on top.
  11. Serve the extra dressing on the side.
Whala! I served this salad with butternut squash ravioli. Ummm, ummm, good!

Dressing Without Fennel Seed

Whole Fennel Seeds

Grind the Whole Fennel Seeds

Ground Fennel

Thinly Slice the Pears

Fennel, Pear, Walnut & Parmesan Salad

Oh, this was my first time using fennel and here’s what I learned:
  • Fennel also goes by the name of anise in the grocery store
  • The whole top portion of the fennel is not edible although some people use the grassy-looking part as garnish
  • If you’re going to “shave” instead of slice the fennel, a useful tool is a mandolin
  • Here’s a link to a Youtube video on fennel that I found useful (it’s not for this recipe but as a newbie cook I found it quite helpful)
  • Here’s a picture of the top of the fennel. The bottom looks like a tulip bulb.

Fresh Fennel

It’s always fun to try new recipes since I’m not the kind of person who knows how to put food together without one.  Special thanks to Vegalicious Recipes for the inspiration.

Progressive International HGT-11 Folding Mandoline Slicer

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