What does fennel taste like? I suppose the chefs are right, it does have a licorice-y flavor—but it’s definitely not off-putting. Fennel also has mild hints of dill and I would best describe it as a gourmet version of celery. But unlike celery, fennel is not fibrous or stringy when cooked (finely chopped fennel actually makes a great substitute for celery in so many dishes.) The flavor of raw fennel is considerably stronger than the cooked version, which is rather mellow and ever so slightly sweet.
Like all vegetables, fennel is also very nutritious. One serving will give you a good dose of anti-aging vitamin C and potassium plus a little hit of calcium. It is pretty much available year-round but you want to look for fennel bulbs that are firm and creamy white with little or no discoloration. The stems should be crisp and the feathery fronds should be a vibrant bright green.
As for my 5-ingredient (plus salt and pepper!) salad, this is one of those “impress the guests” kind of salads because 1) it looks so beautiful and 2) it’s not another unimaginative bowl of ho-hum mixed up lettuce leaves. I especially like how easy it is to prepare! If you can chop and boil water you can absolutely make this dish. Nothing to it. Promise.
5-Ingredient Fennel, Apple & Green Bean Salad
- 2 fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed about 1-inch above the bulb, slice stalks into thin strips (don’t discard bulbs!)
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 cups green beans, end trimmed, cut into 2 1/2 inch pieces
- Juice from 1 whole lemon
- 1-2 tablespoons flax oil (such as Barlean’s) or extra virgin olive oil
- Unrefined sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
- Prepare a large ice bath.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook 3 minutes. Add fennel and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Drain green beans and fennel and immediately plunge into ice bath. Let vegetables sit in ice water 2-3 minutes. Drain.
- Transfer green beans and fennel to a large serving bowl. Pat the vegetables dry with paper towels. Add the apple slices. Drizzle the lemon juice and oil on top. Toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
- OPTIONAL: Place macadamia nuts in a food processor and process into crumbs. Sprinkle macadamia nut “crumbs” on top of salad.