My friends Jules and Charlie had us over for a Mother's Day supper and presented us with this perfect salad. I've wanted it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day since. Next week is our Apartment Therapy work retreat and I think I'll make a double recipe for the gang. Maybe I'll triple it, then there will be leftovers for breakfast (cook it down, serve with eggs...)
A few kitchen tools that make assembling this salad easy are a vegetable peeler for the cheese (you get nice thin, curly shards of cheese) and a mandoline for shaving the fennel. But if all you have is one good knife, you'll still make a great salad.
In terms of ingredients, if the mâche is hard to find, substitute any small spring green; even a few little piles of chopped baby spinach or arugula would work well. Bresaola is a delicious and lean air-cured beef that dries to a beautiful deep red tone. It looks great against the pale fennel. Most gourmet shops that carry cured meats will have it. If not, substitute whatever you can find in the cured meat department (salami, prosciutto, etc.)
Lemony Shaved Fennel Salad with Bresaola
2-3 fennel bulbs
1/4 cup really good olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
a few pinches coarse salt
a few cracks freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler or sliced into thin shards
18 thin slices bresaola
1 6-ounce package mâche
Remove the frilly stalk off the fennel then trim the root end and any bruised layers away. Slice thinly crosswise - 1/8" if possible, here's where the mandoline comes in.
In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Toss fennel in dressing. Make sure the fennel is well-coated. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
To plate, arrange 3 pieces bresaola on a small plate, add a scoop of fennel, a few small bunches mâche, then top with a few pieces of Parmesan shards.
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