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By Dianne Bunis

In early spring, carefully stacked bulb-fennels are noticeable at the grocery market. Called finocchio in Italian, fennel is a large bulb resembling an onion fennel but has a delicate anise flavor. Roasting the fennel bulb brings out a mellow, sweet flavor as it softens, making it a perfect seasonal salad to accompany any dish.

Select fennel bulbs that are firm and fresh. Note: Bulb fennels may be labeled as “anise” in food markets.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium fennel bulb, 1 tablespoon fronds reserved for garnish

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Spring mix lettuces

Pine nuts, optional

Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons finely minced shallot

Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 425°F. Wash well and trim fennel bulbs – halve bulbs lengthwise, rinse again checking for dirt, then slice lengthwise again into 1/4-inch thick pieces.

Spread fennel evenly onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, toss with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until browned for about 25-30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.

While fennel is roasting, prepare vinaigrette; whisk ingredients together in a glass measuring cup, set aside to allow flavors to blend.

Assemble a pyramid of lettuces on salad plates. Add the roasted fennel, top with pine nuts. Drizzle with lemon vinaigrette, garnish with fennel fronds.