Shaved Fennel Salad

Shaved Fennel Salad

Slicing vegetables super-thin makes for awesome texture.
TIME 20 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
1 large piece Parmesan cheese (you won’t use it all)
2 large or 3 medium fennel bulbs (about 1½ pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Take the cheese out of the fridge so it comes to room temperature, which will make it easier to shave. Trim the bottom, stalks, and feathery leaves off the fennel bulbs; save some of the leaves for garnish and discard the rest. Cut the bulbs in half top to bottom.

2 Working with one half at a time, put the flat side against the cutting board and slice crosswise into slices as thin as you can manage. Put the fennel slices in a large bowl. Chop the reserved leaves, but don’t add them to the bowl yet.

3 Hold the cheese firmly in one hand and shave ribbons off with a vegetable peeler. It’s okay if they break up a bit. Stop when you have about ½ cup shavings. Save the remaining cheese for another use.

4 Drizzle the fennel with the olive oil, lemon juice, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss with your hands or utensils to break up the slices a bit. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more olive oil or lemon juice if you like. Leave the salad in the bowl or transfer to a platter or plates; top with the Parmesan shavings and fennel leaves and serve right away.

  • If you can’t find (or don’t like) fennel, use celery. Cut it crosswise at a 45-degree angle so you get long, thin slices. Crumbled feta cheese is nice with celery instead of Parmesan.
  • Other vegetables that make nice shaved salads: button mushrooms, radishes, zucchini, or parsnips; use any instead of the fennel here. (Combinations are good too.) Trim and peel as necessary, and if they’re large, cut them in half as you would the fennel before slicing thinly.

  • Look for mostly white, clean, taut, unblemished fennel bulbs. They will keep wrapped loosely in plastic for up to a week in the refrigerator.
  • Shaving vegetables is much easier with a mandoline. You can get effective but inexpensive models made of plastic fitted with a ceramic or metal blade; they work just like a box grater. It’s a good investment if you like eating raw vegetables, because you’ll wind up making even more salads like this one.

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