I first had a version of this salad while traveling near Ravenna, Italy. Previously, I’d only enjoyed fennel cooked. The thinly shaved, faintly anise-flavored vegetable is transformed when served with a rich olive oil vinaigrette, peppery arugula, and a pile of fresh Parmesan shavings.
Cut the stems and feathery leaves from each fennel bulb. Reserve a few of the leaves for garnish and discard the remainder and the stems. Trim off the base from each bulb. If the outer layer of either bulb is tough or discolored, discard it. Using a mandoline, or a very sharp chef’s knife, cut each bulb lengthwise into paper-thin slices. Then, using a knife, cut each slice lengthwise into several pieces.
In a large bowl, using a fork, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice, if desired.
Add the fennel and toss to coat well. Let stand for 10–15 minutes, then add the arugula and toss to coat well.
Divide the salad among 4–6 plates. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the cheese into thin slices or curls, and divide among the salads. Garnish with a few fennel leaves. Serve at once.
© 2013 All rights reserved. Published by Weldon Owen.