Fennel bulb was relatively exotic vegetable for me until I came to North America. Unlike Italian cuisine which uses the bulb of fennel quite extensively, Indian cuisine uses only the seeds of fennel plants, either in the dish or as mouth freshener after the meal. I fell in love with the mildly sweet, liquorish taste of the fennel bulb after having it just once. Fennel bulb can be sautéed, grilled or boiled and added to soups, but I prefer to cut the bulb in to half, peel the layers and enjoy them raw.
However, when I watched Chef Michael Smith making salad from thinly sliced fennel on food network, I was inspired to embellish one of my favorite vegetable. I decided to combine it with other ingredients that could enhance and preserve the sweet liquorish flavor of fennel. Green apple is the perfect way to add sweet tartness without affecting the color and form of the fennel salad. To add some visual contrast without steeling the flavor of the fennel I used chopped basil leaves.
Since I wanted fennel to dominate the salad, I was very careful choosing the ingredients for the dressing as well. Instead of extra virgin olive oil that is used in most salad dressing because of its pungent flavor, I chose to add canola oil. Neutrally flavored and yet healthy canola oil will add shine to the salad without contributing much to the flavor. You could also use sunflower oil or any other flavorless oil, but strictly avoid using other pungent oils like; mustard oil or sesame oil. To add the sourness I choose balsamic vinegar for its sweetish taste, but red wine vinegar also works fine here. And finally for the slight crunchiness the salad was tossed with roasted fennel seeds.
It takes less than ten minuets to prepare this salad and it tastes the best when served cold.