Shaved Fennel Salad with Avocado & Lemon
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Meet spring in a bowl: shaved fennel and asparagus, sliced avocado, chopped parsley, red onion, dried currants, and parmesan all dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
Forgive me if I say this too often: I could eat this salad every day.
But I mean it: the combination of textures and flavors just tastes so fresh. It’s raw and crisp meets creamy and rich meets sharp and sweet… a foolproof formula, really.
As you might imagine, this salad makes most sense as a side dish — I’ve been serving it aside these black lentils with spinach — but it’s amazingly filling and satisfying on its own. With a hunk of bread on the side, I can call dinner done.
The recipe comes from Stacy Adimando’s Piatti, a cookbook all about plates and platters for sharing inspired by Italy, which I am loving. When the book arrived, I made the roasted escarole with labne and pistachios, which was incredibly delicious, and a few days later, when my parents were visiting, I made the above-mentioned black lentils, which, incidentally, are garnished with buratta.
Days after my parents left, each texted me separately about the lentils — Friends, these lentils are memorable — and each sent along photo-evidence of the lentils continuing to be enjoyed back in CT.
Stacy, if you are unfamiliar, is the editor-in-chief of Saveur and the co-author of a number of cookbooks including the James Beard Award-winning Nopalito. She comes from a big American family of Southern Italian lineage, and knows a thing or two about assembling “generous, abundant, rustic, and seasonal” spreads to feed the masses.
I’ll share more about Stacy and Piatti when I get that lentil recipe up, but first:
A Few Notes About This Fennel Salad:
- A mandoline is not essential, but I find it very helpful for slicing the fennel thinly. I recently bought a new Benriner mandoline — my old one was ancient — and wow: what a difference. Highly recommend: $34. It comes with a guard, too. What I love about using a mandoline for this recipe, is that there’s no need to core the fennel bulbs — when shaved thinly, the core is fine left intact.
- If you soak the currants in a little bit of hot water and vinegar — this is something I learned from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook — they will soften/plump up a bit.
- The original recipe calls for snap peas, which I used, and which I loved. Snap peas, however, can be tricky — when they’re good, they’re amazing; when they’re not good, they’re stringy and tough. When I couldn’t find good snap peas, I subbed in raw, shaved asparagus, and they worked beautifully. Later in the summer, raw, shaved zucchini will be a nice option here, too.
- Swap in other herbs for the parsley: mint, chives, or dill would all work nicely here.
Stacy Adimando’s Piatti:
- 1 tablespoon dried currants
- splash white balsamic vinegar
- 2 fennel bulbs, sliced thinly on a mandoline or with a knife
- 1/4 cup (or more) loosely packed fennel fronds
- 1/4 lb. asparagus, peeled with a peeler, see notes above or snap peas (100 g) snap peas, stemmed and sliced on the diagonal
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
- salt, I’ve been using Maldon sea salt
- freshly cracked pepper to taste
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or Pecorino Romano, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- Place the currants in a small bowl. Splash in some vinegar (maybe a teaspoon) and then cover with hot tap water — about a tablespoon. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the fennel, fronds, asparagus or snap peas, onion, and parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss. Add the olive oil and fresh lemon juice and toss again. Taste. If it’s too tart, add more olive oil by the tablespoon till it tastes right. If it needs more dressing, add more olive oil and lemon to taste. If it’s not tart enough, add more lemon (or a splash of vinegar).
- Drain the currants and add to the bowl. Add the avocado, and toss again. Shave in Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste. Toss. Taste. Adjust seasonings as necessary, and serve.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Salad
- Method: Dress & Toss
- Cuisine: Italian, American
Keywords: fennel, shaved, salad, Italian, spring, avocado