I love Autumn! Cool, crisp mornings blossom into sunny, warm days. Leaves burn with the fire of waning chlorophyll (I guess that is only poetic if you are a nerd like me). Long sleeves, fireplace smoke, pumpkins, and soup on the stove. Pets begin growing their winter coats, making them look plump and cuddly. And the cold weather vegetables return to the Farmer's Market. Once again Italian kale frequents my table. (Sorry, E, I know it is not your favorite right now, but someday you will like it.)
Fennel is another frequent Autumn table guest. I love it prepared many ways, but this refreshing salad is one of my favorites.
Fennel and feta salad with lemon vinaigrette
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice (amount from half a lemon)
2 Tbs olive oil (you will taste the olive oil so I recommend using a good quality olive oil)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 fennel bulb, cored, stems and outer leaves removed
1/4 C crumbled feta cheese (I use the mild Pastures of Eden Feta)
In a medium bowl add the olive oil to the lemon juice by slowly pouring a light stream while whisking vigorously. This allows the mixture to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
I prepare the feta by removing the green stems and fronds, the outer-most leaves of the bulb and cutting out the core. After I cut the bulb in half, I thinly slice the fennel on my mandolin. I really like thin slices (1-2 millimeters) but slice as best you can or to your preference. Add the sliced fennel to the vinaigrette, toss to coat.
Add crumbled feta and toss gently. At this point I like to allow the salad about 20 minutes to come together. This allows the lemon juice to penetrate the fennel, pickling it slightly.
Makes 2 vegetable servings.
Stays crispy and fresh for next day leftovers.
Giving credit where credit is due:
Since I forgot to take my own picture, the fennel bulb picture is from sassyradish, via the creative commons.