I bought a bulb of fennel a while ago with no goal in mind. It was still lurking in my fridge last night, smelling suspiciously of licorice, when the Human Vacuum came up with a genius plan for dinner: Buca di Beppo takeout. He called for spaghetti and meatballs while I googled a salad. Here's what I made up, after examining numerous time-consuming alternatives for fennel preparation online:
Fennel, Apple, and Clementine Salad with Toasted Sesame Oil
Peel, core, and thinly slice:
One bulb of fennel
I'd never prepared fennel before, so I needed a little more instruction than most recipes provide. Here's what I did:
1) Cut off the celery-esque tops
2) Use a paring knife to remove the outer layer of the bulb (say, 1/4 inch all around)
3) Cut in half. There will be a dense, opaque core visible. Remove the whole thing--it's hard and bitter.
4) Thinly slice what's left and dump it into a bowl. You'll know you got all of the core out if the layers of the fennel slices fall apart on their own.
Peel, core, and dice:
One red apple
If you can't cut up an apple, you need more remedial culinary education than I am willing to provide in this recipe.
Peel and section:
You could substitute any orange-like product here, of course.
Combine fruit in a bowl. In a separate container, whisk together:
a few drops toasted sesame oil
a few drops soy sauce
Proportion the oil and vinegar to your taste, I usually go with 3 parts oil to 2 parts vinegar, for a total of about 2 tablespoons dressing.
Pour over fruit, toss, and leave to marinate while you go to pick up the best meatballs ever.