Summer is here and in full, sweaty swing! Sometimes, you just want a nice light and refreshing salad to go with that meal you’ve been cooking over a hot stove in the sweltering heat.  Well, you’re in luck, I’ve got just the salad for you. Surprisingly, there are no leafy vegetables in this salad.  Nope, it’s made up of 3 ingredients and a delicious home-made salad dressing.  Here’s what you need for this delightful dish:

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced thin
  • 2 red fuji apples (or pink lady), peeled, cored and julienned
  • ½ onion, halved and sliced thin

Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp fennel fronds, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp prosecco (or champagne) vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 5-6 tsp grapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

As you can tell, this is an atypical salad.  Technically, it might be a slaw, but I’m calling it a salad since it was the vegetable component of my dinner.  Start by pulling off a bunch of those little green things at the top of the fennel bulb.  Those are called the fronds.  Set them aside.  Trim the rest of the green stalks off and cut the fennel bulb in half. You see that thick part in the middle on the bottom that comes to a point? That’s the core. Cut that out.  Now, with your magnificent knife skills (or a mandolin as I do) slice the fennel thin. Slice the onion in half and slice one half into thin half moon shapes.  

Now you should peel the apple, core the apple, then cut it into little matchsticks.  This type of cut is called julienne.  You also might want to sprinkle a little of that vinegar (or lemon juice) on the apple so it doesn’t brown.  Exposed apples and oxygen are not friends, and you don’t want it to turn brown or black.  

Please don’t judge my terrible apple peeling skills. Please?  Ok, once your vegetables and apple are sliced, it’s time to make the dressing.   Chop your mint and the fronds as fine as possible. Those fronds are going to add a little bit of that anise flavor the fennel has, helping tie the room together. Make sure to save a little bit of the fronds. Also mince the garlic, or put it through garlic press. In a medium bowl, add the vinegar, the honey, the fronds, the mint and the garlic. 

Wait, what the hell happened to the Dijon mustard in the picture?  Well, I called an audible and decided I didn’t want it.  I decided I wanted a looser dressing and not a full emulsion, which would have certainly happened with the mustard.  The mustard would have made it too thick for what I wanted it to be.  You can use the Dijon mustard if you want a thicker and tangier dressing. This omission is also why it’s technically a slaw and not a salad. 

With one hand, start whisking the mixture in the bowl.  Slowly drizzle the grapeseed oil (or olive oil if you’ve got it like that). You could be smart, unlike me, and do this in a blender which would make you work and sweat a lot less in this heat. But alas, I needed the exercise and am somewhat of a masochist.  Whisk until all of the oil has been incorporated.  Add salt and pepper and taste.  Add more, if need be, or leave it alone if it’s just right. Dump that dressing on the salad, toss, and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds.  This salad is best served with a somewhat salty dish. Especially of the pork variety, as this is a fairly sweet salad.  I hope you enjoy! 

See you next month with another but very different summer salad!

Jay Flanders

Jay Flanders is a native of Newport and avid cook. While he studied at the University of Rhode Island, he also attended the College of Food Network via his television set where he learned the basics of cooking. Also being an all-too-avid eater at restaurants, he really began to learn what ingredients went together, cooking techniques and other tips and tricks in the kitchen. He used that knowledge to teach himself how to cook and how to start making his own recipes. Now, he’s here to give you his tips, tricks and sometimes uniquely tasty spins on recipes and to show you that great cooking can be done is the tiniest of kitchens like his.