July 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Fennel Frond Salad with Stilton and Candied Walnuts

I had an idea for this week’s recipe and was very excited to try it. I sliced a large fennel bulb, roasted the slices and then topped the fragrant segments with red pear, Stilton and freshly candied walnuts. It smelled wonderful and looked fabulous. I tasted it and made a face. It did not work. The soft fennel had lost its personality and could not provide a counter to the ripe pears and Stilton, let alone enhance them.

Now I was left with an entire bulb of roast fennel, the cheese, the pears and no recipe. Then my eye caught the grassy, aromatic fronds I had left on the cutting board. They were lush, green and fragrant. That was the answer.

I chopped the fronds and tossed them with baby carrots, honey and lemon juice. It was marvelous. This salad made the perfect bed for the rest of the components. The fresh fennel fronds and crunchy carrots heightened the texture and flavor of the cheese, sweet pear and delectable candied walnuts.

The roast fennel went into the fridge for another time. I’m thinking of a tomato and fennel soup garnished with something crispy…

What You Need:

Medium-size bowl for tossing

Food processor

Heavy-bottomed medium pot

Wooden spoon

Parchment

Baking sheet

Foil

Measuring cup

4 C. loosely packed fennel fronds with the stems

¾ C. baby carrots

¼ C. equal parts honey and lemon juice

2 ripe pears

App. ½ C. Stilton

1 ½ C. walnut halves

½ C. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the baking sheet with foil. Spread the walnuts on the sheet and bake until toasted, about 6 minutes. Set aside near the cooktop for easy access.

Place a sheet of parchment next to the cooktop. Over a medium heat, melt the sugar in the heavy-bottomed pot. Do not stir until you can see that the bottom has begun to melt significantly. Stir until the melted sugar reaches a medium amber color: not too dark. Quickly add the toasted walnuts and with the wooden spoon, stir to coat the nuts. There will appear to be a surplus of melted sugar, but keep stirring the walnuts halves around until they are thoroughly coated with all the melted sugar, save for a thin layer on the bottom of the pot. Immediately transfer the candied walnuts to the piece of parchment paper. They will want to clump together but as they cool, you will be able to separate them.

On a cutting board, roughly chop the grassy part of the fennel fronds. Transfer to the medium-size bowl. Mince the remaining stems and add to the bowl.

Using the food processor pulse option, chop the carrots until they are about the size of pine nuts. Add them to the bowl. In the measuring cup, blend equal parts honey and lemon juice. I used 1/8 cup of each and then adjust the ratio to taste. Pour the mixture onto the chopped carrots and fennel and toss to coat. Make another batch of the honey and lemon and set aside.

Slice the pears into 1/8-inch-thick wedges. On each serving plate or on one serving platter, make a bed of the salad and top with a flower arrangement of the sliced pears. Sprinkle with the crumbled Stilton. Top with the candied walnuts, breaking the halves into slightly smaller pieces. Drizzle with the honey and lemon blend and serve. Enjoy!

By Lisa Reitman Dobi

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