Shaved Fennel Salad

I have a new cookbook, who am I kidding?  I always have a new cookbook.  It's my curse...I am addicted to new cookbooks.  I drag them around with me, I read them from cover to cover, I obsess over pictures, and methods, new flavors that I have never combined, and I dream about it all.  Crazy?  Maybe.  Passionate?  Absolutely!

This new one is called the Art of Simple Food and it's by Alice Waters, and it's not really new.  Who is Alice Waters?  She is one of the founders of local, seasonal, simple eating.  She is one of the many people that I would love to eat with!  (I have a list...)  She is the founder/owner of Chez Panisse, which is the core of fresh, local, seasonal, and real flavors.  It is minimalist, the cookbook contends that less is more, and I agree wholeheartedly.  You don't really taste food until you take away all of the sugar, salt and seasonings.  Eating fresh, whole foods allows you to redevelop your sense of taste, and essentially taste real food for the first time.  

The thing about this book is that it has no pictures, taboo to me, but oddly I am not missing them at all.  This book seems to speak volumes to me, and as I pour through the pages, I find that I can actually taste and smell what she is talking about.  Each section has a small tutorial at the beginning and then follows with recipes complete with paragraphs about combining flavors and methodology.  There are ideas for variations after each recipe, little tweaks to slightly change flavors based on what else you may be serving.  I swear it was written just for me, it cooks like me...if that makes sense.  

I was craving fennel, so turned to a simple shaved fennel salad recipe, and it was fantastic.  Fresh and light and the perfect side for a simple Sunday afternoon meal.  I had to share it!

The Art of Simple Cooking by Alice Waters

*use a mandolin to get paper-thin slices of fennel to make a delicate salad*

2 Fennel Bulbs, tops and root ends trimmed
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
grated zest of 1/4 lemon
1 tsp white wine vinegear (use a good one - it makes a difference)
salt to taste
fresh-ground black pepper
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (I used 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp meyer lemon oil)
1 tsp chopped fennel tops


Trim the tops and root ends from the fennel, discarding any dehydrated or discolored outer layers.  Slice thinly with a mandolin and place in a bowl.

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, zest, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Whisk together.  Add olive oil (and meyer lemon oil if you are using) and start to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed with salt and lemon juice.

Add the dressing to the fennel and lightly toss with your fingers.  Garnish with fennel tops.


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