There are some things that just tickle your fancy – like the Autumn sunshine glowing on your face through the dancing leaves of the trees as they gracefully drift from branch to pavement… Or the comfortable silence that inevitably befalls you just before you drift off to sleep in a big cozy mound of blankets after lunch… Or the first sight of Christmas lights in the 6pm darkness of October (yes, someone has their Christmas lights up already)… Or…
Or this: Grilled Fennel Salad with Stage Bacon, Saanich Organics Apple & Blue Cheese Slaw.
Fennel is one of those vegetables that pays a visit every once in a while to our house and I never really know what to do with it. It’s anise/licorice flavor and crunchy texture usually results in a raw julienne and toss with lemon, eventually rendezvousing with some goat cheese, mint, balsamic vinegar, and beets on a plate.
This time however, I had an epiphany: grill that sucker! I knew that if you roasted fennel, the aniseed flavor mellowed significantly – so why not do the same on the grill, while at the same time adding a little charcol/smoky flavor to it? The rest that followed (the bacon, the apple, the blue cheese), was just inevitable.
This delightful and playful Fall salad gives your mouth a polite yet surprising little how’s-your-father and served as a starter to a larger meal, leaves your taste-buds begging for more.
Grilled Fennel Salad with Stage Bacon, Apple & Blue Cheese Slaw
- 2 Bulbs of Fennel, tops removed, cut in half & then half each side again, delicately rinsed & dried.*
- 6 Strips of Bacon (I used Stage bacon, but any high quality bacon will do).
- 2 Small Apples (mine came from Saanich Organics).
- 1/3 C Blue Cheese, crumbled.
- 1 Lemon for Juice.
- 1 Batch of Balsamic Reduction
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
- Pre-heat your grill to medium heat.
- Meanwhile, toss the fennel with a bit of olive oil, salt & pepper.Once hot, place the fennel on the grill and close the lid. Let grill about 5 minutes per side or until lightly blackened and tender. Carefully remove from the heat and set aside.
- As the fennel grills, core and dice the apples and immediately toss with the lemon juice and a bit of water to prevent browning.
- Next, heat a medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat. As it heats, line up the bacon on a cutting board lengthwise. Now slice relatively thin slices across the girth of the bacon. Once hot, toss in the bacon pieces and fry until crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and place on paper towels to drain.
- Now that it's cooled, throw the bacon in a bowl and combine well with the diced apples, blue cheese and a little pepper.
- Assemble!: Place one piece of fennel on a plate. Top with a small handful of the slaw mixture and drizzle with a couple Tbsp of the balsamic vinegar. Gently season with salt and pepper if necessary - though it probably won't be because the cheese and bacon should provide all the salt you need.
- Serve either hot or at room temperature.