Saturday, February 4, 2012

fennel & apple slaw with citrus

the super bowl is today and what is more super-bowly than a crisp cool slaw? probably a lot, actually, like guacamole or nachos or (i guess this is a thing?) an entire edible stadium made of things like cold cuts, twinkies, and pigs-in-blankets.

this is not at all decadent or cheese-laced, so it's probably more like something you might want to eat tomorrow, after the delicious orgy of gluttony that this mighty day inspires.

this is a very simple and quick salad that uses some of the greats of winter produce - citrus and fennel. a little apple adds some sweetness, while celery brings more crunch. a bunch of scallions lend their mild vegetal bite and some apple cider vinegar ups that slaw-y tang.

basically the majority of the time it takes to put this together lies in cutting up the ingredients. slice the scallions into small coins or slightly on the bias to add a little more angular visual interest. slice the celery (i used 4-5 of the small tender inside ribs - the outer ones are more tough and may be better saved for a mirepoix or something, although if you do use them i would make sure to slice them extra-thinly) into crescents of ~ 1/8 of an inch or so.

cut the fennel in half lengthwise (in the picture above, you'd cut right down the middle) - fennel bulbs are kind of ovoid in shape, so you're cutting through the thinner side. then cut out the core using two cuts going down from the top of the core like an inverted V. slice the fennel very thinly, going horizontally from the bottom to the top. here is a very advanced diagram:

i'm pretty sure we're on the same page now. also, i always save the fennel fronds and add them in for a wispy garnishy effect. the rest of the fennel cast-offs can be saved in your freezer bag of stock-makings.

so yeah, get your ingredients cut up. for the apple, i quartered it and cut out the core, then cut the quarters in half (as you can see in the bottom left of the picture below) and then cut them into kind of large matchsticks or so. you could also use a mandoline to slice the everything but the scallions, but i think it's pretty easy to cut things up by hand.

put it all in a big bowl and add maybe 1/4 teaspoon each of orange and lemon zests. you can use more if you like, but the oils in the peel start to be more assertive after it sits for a bit and you want to make sure that all of the other flavors aren't overpowered.

then add the juice from the whole orange (or half, if it's enormous) and maybe half the lemon. add about a tablespoon or a little less of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon or so of salt. i sweetened it with about 2 tablespoons of agave syrup, because i had it on hand and it dissolves well in cold liquids, unlike honey. you could also use some sugar to taste.

and that's it! this is a nice crunchy salad with some pleasant sweetness and brightness from the lemon and orange. i imagine it would also be good with different types of citrus - meyer lemons, blood oranges, tangerines, or grapefruits would all be interesting to try. also some radishes might be a good addition.

1 bulb fennel
4-5 small inner stalks of celery
1 apple
a small bunch scallions (~5 or 6)
small amount of zest from 1 orange and 1 lemon
juice from 1 orange
juice from 1/2 lemon
~1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
~2 tablespoons agave syrup or sugar, to taste

listening to: iron and wine, the sea and cake, the slug and lettuce (two are bands, one is a british chain of pubs. but which is which?!)

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