Al Dente on the Side: Celery, apple and fennel slaw

We’re spending a lot of time around here telling the two-year-old what’s safe and what is not. Now, you know and I know that a just-honed JA Henckels Professional S 7-inch santoku knife fits into the category of “sharp” and “dangerous.” Does that mean I’m careful?

Absolutely not.

Just as Fernando Torres put Spain up 3-0 against Ireland in today’s UEFA Eurpoean Football Championships, I looked up. Ian Darke, ESPN’s play-by-play voice for the match, was getting loud and excited as Torres broke for the goal. I glanced upwards mid-chop and…took off a chunk of fingernail.

No pain. No blood. But it could have been messy. And, it could have messed up an otherwise awesome salad; Bon Appetit‘s update on the classic Waldorf salad.

Fennel, anise, finoc…whatever you call it, this licorice-flavored vegetable was a staple in my family growing up. It appeared in salads or as a snacking vegetable (yeah…when other kids had carrots sticks, I had finoc, or what my family call fin-oik). It blends nicely with the sweetness from the Granny Smith apple and the spice of the celery.

What worked: The fennel. It’s a perfect food, really.

What didn’t: The balance of oil and vinegar. I would probably up the vinegar content to 3 or 3 1/2 tablespoons in the future.

Will it make another appearance: Maybe. It depends. The Wife does not like fennel or celery, so I’m on my own here. If I have my family around, then yes. Otherwise…probably not.

Celery, apple and fennel slaw
By Bon Appetit 

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. sugar
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced diagonally, plus 1/4 cup loosely packed celery leaves
2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced crosswise, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
1 firm, crisp apple (such as Pink Lady, Gala, or Granny Smith), julienned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add celery and celery leaves, thinly sliced fennel and chopped fennel fronds, and apple; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve cold.

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