A friend at work loaned me the book "Two Dudes One Pan". I found this amazing recipe in there and I just knew it would be the first one I would try from the cookbook. Boy oh boy am I glad I did. My daughter came by for dinner the night I served this and it was so nice to hear everyone eating saying "mmmm" while they ate it. I love those kind of meals. It was so light, refreshing and had so many things about it that I loved. Slightly (and I mean oh so slightly) sweet, crunchy, a little anise taste from the fennel and a little punch from the Pecorino cheese. Now I can't wait to go through the book and find my next recipe to try. If you get a chance to look at or buy this book, I would suggest doing so. It really is a great cookbook!
For the Salad:
2 fennel bulbs
1/2 lemon (used only if you make the salad in advance of the meal, to stop browning)
1/2 cup very small grapes or grapes cut in half
3 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 tsp chives, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
2 oz Pecorino cheese, shave with a vegetable peeler (This is a kind of Romano cheese)
For the Vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar (This can be found at the grocery store next to all the red wine vinegars etc)
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 shallot (or 1/4 of a very small white onion)
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
Halve and core the fennel bulbs and trim the stalks. Chop up one Tbsp of the green "fronds" (the green feather stuff at the end of the stalks) to garnish the salad and set aside.
Slice the fennel and apples very thin into matchstick cuts. (If you slice the apples and fennel more than 10 minutes before you serve this salad, then here is where you would squeeze the 1/2 of a lemon over the slices to prevent browning.)
Toast the pine nuts by placing them in a dry skillet and turning the heat on medium. Continuously stir the nuts or "swirl" the pan to keep them from burning. The pine nuts are toasted when they begin to turn a darker shade of brown. Remove immediately and set aside.
In a bowl, whisk the champagne vinegar,, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Add the shallot and drizzle in both oils while whisking to incorporate it. Add the fennel, apples, grapes, toasted pine nuts, chives and salt. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter and top with the Pecorino cheese. Garnish with the reserved, chopped fennel fronds. Serve