Salad of Young Fennel, Parmesan and Button Mushrooms
Try making this Italian salad in early summer or autumn, when the first of the seasons fennel its flavor mild and true, its flesh crisp appears in farmers markets. Look for mushrooms that are very firm with caps tightly fastened to the stems.
- 1 young, tender fennel bulb
- 1/2 lb. firm fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean
- 3 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 8 large, attractive butter lettuce leaves
- Wedge Italian Parmesan cheese
Cut off the stems, feathery tops and bruised outer stalks from the fennel bulb. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut crosswise into paper-thin slices. You should have about 2 cups. Place in a bowl.
Trim the stem from each mushroom to make a clean, flat surface, then cut the mushrooms into paper-thin slices. Add to the fennel along with the lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat evenly.
Divide the lettuce leaves evenly among 4 individual plates, making a bed on each plate. Then divide the fennel and mushroom mixture evenly among the plates. Using a vegetable peeler, cheese plane or very sharp knife, shave 4 or 5 pieces of Parmesan from the cheese wedge directly onto each plate. You will need about 2 oz. total for the shavings. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Cooking from the Farmers Market (Weldon Owen, 2010)