Fennel salads with apples and carrots

Mark Bittman’s Mediterranean salad with fennel, apple and olives.

Fennel has been a challenge for me this year because I’d never seen it before I decided we should grow it. And then once it grew, I had no idea what to do with it. I didn’t even know what parts were usable or how to cut it.

Also, we let ours grow too tall and so the bulb was kind of stretched out and I had to figure out which part was still OK to eat. Next year, I will know better.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the fennel we have, and it was with great relief that I read Mark Bittman’s recent dinner party planning piece in the New York Times. Using fennel as a base, he created  four salads by varying just a few ingredients. I’ve tried two so far _ the Mediterranean salad with apple and olives and an Indian-style salad with carrots and yogurt.

I preferred the latter, I think because while I like Kalamata olives, it’s only in certain — and I would argue appropriate — venues. The apple and olive salad didn’t quite cut it for me. But maybe you will feel differently.

G., for the record, also preferred the carrot and yogurt salad. That’s not surprising given that he hates olives. But it is surprising that he liked either one since he still considers fennel a weed.

Fennel-Apple Salad with Olives

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 pound fennel, sliced

1 tart apple, sliced (Bittman says 1/2 pound)

1/2 cup roughly chopped black olives

Mix the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss fennel, apple and olives in bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss.

Fennel-Carrot Salad with Yogurt Dressing

1/3 cup yogurt

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 pound fennel, sliced

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup roughly chopped cashews

Combine yogurt, lime juice and ginger. Mix fennel, carrots and nuts in bowl. Toss with dressing.

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