Fennel salad

So this doesn’t really have an Italian name because it’s my own creation, but it certainly follows the rules of traditional Italian cooking: start with fresh ingredients, in season, and don’t do more than is necessary. Also, if you find two ingredients that belong together (e.g., tomato and mozzarella, escarole and canellini), just put them together and let them work their magic. 

Kohlrabi is in the cabbage family (”kohl” means cabbage in German, so for example, “cole slaw” translates to “cabbage in the slavic style”). It’s not quite a tuber or root, because the part you eat grows above the ground, but it’s also not a flower or leaf. The outer layer is tough and fibrous, so you need to cut all that away. You’ll be left with something that resembles jicama or Asian pear.

Fennel has a distinctive licorice flavor. You can eat the bulb, as in this recipe, or use the frilly fronds (as in pasta colle sarde). And the seeds, of course, are used in Italian sausage. Fun fact: finocchio, the Italian name for fennel, is also slang for “gay.” I’ve no idea why. 

Salads are typically served last in Italy, but this also makes a nice antipasto, or a palate cleanser at any time.

What you need

  • Kohlrabi (one bulb)

  • Fennel (one bulb)

  • Olive oil

  • Lemon juice

  • Parlsey, chopped

How you make it

  • Cut off the fibrous outer layer of the kohlrabi bulb. 
  • Slice the bulb super-thin.
  • Cut off the button and stalks of the fennel bulb.
  • Slice it super-thin.
  • Toss with enough olive oil to barely coat it all and the juice of half a lemon (or more, to taste).
  • Toss with a chopped parsley and a dash of salt and pepper.

That’s really all there is to it. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Buon appetito!