My neighbor Jackie bestowed me with another bulb-and-a-half of fennel recently, so I once again hit up the e-waves for an interesting recipe. This one, an Apple & Fennel Panzanella courtesy of bitchincamero, was a winner. A winner as in, I made a huge batch of this as a side dish to go with an otherwise large meal, and three of us wiped out the entire batch. I absolutely loved it, and would make it again in a heartbeat. I fiddled with the quantities a bit, so I'm reproducing the recipe as made by me (at least, to the extent that my increasingly free-form kitchen exploits can be reproduced) below.
Apple & Fennel Panzanella
• 1/2 loaf stale Ciabatta bread
• 1 medium to large apple, thinly sliced (bitchincamero suggests Macintosh; I like Red Delicious, so I used one of those, instead)
• 1 medium sized fennel bulb, thinly sliced (if you're a novice fennel user like I am, this guide for prepping fennel may come in handy)
• 1 handful of salad greens (optional - I did not include this - although I might next time and cut out some of the bread to make the recipe less carby. An herb salad or mixed green mix would work well.)
• 1 small bunch chives, snipped into small pieces
• 1 tsp poppy seeds
Dressing (NOTE: I like more dressing, so I doubled this):
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 T Dijon mustard
• 2 tsp white wine vinegar
• 1 garlic clove, finely minced (I used two cloves per 2 T olive oil)
• pinch of salt
Preheat the broiler. Slice the bread into 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch cubes. Arrange them on a cookie sheet and pop them under the broiler for a couple of minutes until they completely dry out and begin to brown slightly. Keep your eye on the bread - it burns quickly.
In the meantime, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic and salt. Toss the bread with the apple, fennel, greens, chives and poppy seeds, then drizzle with the dressing and give it a good toss, making sure everything is evenly coated. If you like the flavor of fennel, you can chop up some of the fronds and throw those in the mix, as well; they make a pretty - and tasty - garnish.
As with most salads, the quantities aren't set in stone, and you can really fiddle with things to taste.
Crisp and hearty with a nice, tangy zing from the dressing...definitely a keeper.