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.
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
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
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.