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I'm relatively new to developing any fennel recipes, but this basic combination emphasizes the marvelous, licoricey tang this underrated vegetable is all about.
You'll need just a few ingredients to fix this fresh-tasting Fennel and Mandarin with Shaved Parmesan salad. Fennel with its delightfully crunchy, mild licorice flavor, and mandarin with its sweet and honey-like brilliance, makes this an antidote to every salad that ever was. Make it the day before you plan to serve it for a truly flavor-married taste experience.
Fennel and Mandarin with Shaved Parmesan is what salad looks like in 2020.
Dressed with olive oil, the juice of fresh citrus for acidity and zing, licoricey fennel fronds and fresh fragrant thyme, this salad makes an amazing base for smoked pork belly, or a crunchy sweet side to weeknight Tuscan Turkey Sliders. Because it’s so versatile, Fennel and Mandarin with Shaved Parmesan is an excellent example of how a simple weeknight meal can still thrill palates and challenge expectations. Fennel and Mandarin with Shaved Parmesan is what salad looks like in 2020.
Fennel and Mandarin with Shaved Parmesan is an excellent example of how a simple weeknight meal can still thrill palates and challenge expectations.
People often compare fennel to anise, which has a sweet licorice flavor. While they are similar, fennel is much brighter and significantly more subtle. It may seem an unusual combination to pair Parmesan together with fennel, but it’s quite fantastic really. The nuttiness of the cheese impeccably complements the hint of licorice the fennel boasts. When I announced I was developing a fennel Parmesan dish, my family initially turned up their noses. The addition of the mandarins changed obstinate minds. Garnishing the salad with a few fronds from the fennel stalks adds elegance to this finished dish.
Garnishing the salad with a few fronds from the fennel stalks adds elegance to this finished dish.
This marvelous, crisp, sunny dish has been the base for many a protein at our family dinner table. I try plating whatever is for dinner atop a healthy bed of greens of some sort, so everybody is trying it. At the dressing stage, I may add zest of either lemon or mandarin, rice vinegar, or fresh chopped mint leaves depending on what my main is and how I will be preparing it. The smoked pork belly I referenced earlier is wholly fabulous when I dress the fennel and add a gob of honey and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes to the ingredients herein. Trust me when I say nobody in my house is suffering from palate fatigue.
Ingredients for Fennel and Mandarin with Shaved Parmesan
1 fennel bulb, shaved paper thin with a mandolin
¼ to ½ cup fresh parsley leaves torn from stems
¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp best quality olive oil
2 mandarin oranges, 1 juiced and the other sliced thinly across
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
In a shallow bowl, whisk olive oil, citrus juices, thyme leaves, and salt and pepper. Toss in about a tablespoon of fennel fronds that you’ve chopped or torn.
Using the thin slice setting on a mandolin, shave the fennel bulb. Put shaved fennel into the bowl with the citrus dressing.
Add the hand torn parsley leaves. Add the shaved Parmesan. Gently toss all the ingredients. Taste for necessary addition of salt and pepper.
Plate the shaved fennel and top with thinly sliced mandarins. Serve with a main dish protein atop fennel or as a side dish.
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