Salads don’t always have a dominant leafy vegetable. Sometimes, it’s a combination of two or three ingredients lightly tossed in good quality olive oil, vinegar, sea salt, fresh black pepper, minced garlic, and lemon juice. Then topped with a salty, firm cheese, or if it’s a salad with fruit, use toasted nuts.
This Mushroom and Fennel Salad is a refreshing lunch served on a slice of bread from a bakery or as a side dish to a main course. With a slightly anise taste, the fennel is a surprise ingredient when paired with rustic mushrooms. Vegetarians could add cannellini (or white kidney) beans, and omnivores could top with duck or pork prosciutto for a little of protein. However, this salad is best served very simple with the freshest ingredients.
Mushroom Fennel Salad
- 10 oz. of white button mushrooms; sliced about 1/4 in. thick
- 2 thinly sliced baby fennel or 1 thinly slice and lightly chop large fennel; place fronds aside for use as a garnish
- 1 to 2 Italian/Cubanelle peppers; ribs and seeds discarded; cut into about 1 in. long matchsticks
- 3 scallions; thinly slice
- A dash of celery seed
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
- Crushed red pepper; to taste
- The juice of one lemon
- 1/4-cup olive oil
- 1 to 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove; minced
- Fresh quality bread from a good baker; sliced horizontally
- 4 to 6 oz. of Pecorino cheese; shaved slices used as garnish
- Lightly toss mushrooms, fennel, peppers, scallions, celery seed, sea salt, fresh black pepper, and crushed red pepper together.
- Whisk together the sea salt, fresh pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and garlic to make the vinaigrette.
- Lightly toss the vinaigrette with the vegetables from step 1 to make the salad.
- Place a slice of bread on each plate. Place a generous spoonful of salad on top of the bread slice. Garnish with fennel fronds, fresh black pepper and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Drizzle a little olive oil on top.