On my final evening in Paris, I arrived at the train station completely bushed after a day full of solo sightseeing. Without GF Boy to share in the fun, I’d taken the gluten-filled route to an afternoon coma, eating mostly baked goods and foregoing my usual healthy salads and snacks. In retrospect, this was kind of a terrible idea — gluten doesn’t really treat my body that well, and I was groggy and out of sorts for a whole day afterward!
Regrets aside, the breadth of carby goodness I managed to tackle was pretty impressive. In the space of 10 hours, I tried a baguette and croissant from a tiny artisan bakery, a nutella/coconut crepe from one of Paris’ numerous creperies, and my favorite indulgence of all, a salted butter kouginette from Larnicol. What can I say, I didn’t want to leave Paris without having tried the world-famous pastries and breads.
(On a gluten-free note, Larnicol makes an incredible cookie using 100% buckwheat flour. They’re labeled “sarassin,” and are sold in packages of a dozen or so in cellophane sleeves. Salted butter is the first ingredient — they are anything but healthy, extremely rich, and totally worth it. I bought a package for GF Boy, and we’ve been making our way through them very, very slowly.)
By the time I got to the Gare du Nord, I was a tired little butterball, and utterly bread-ed out. I didn’t think I’d ever be interested in eating again, and yet I couldn’t resist buying a beautiful French food magazine, perfect reading material for the Eurostar train to London. Even better, the magazine had a special summer recipe insert, including the one I’ve adapted/translated for today’s post.
I’d never eaten fennel and apples together before making this recipe, and I’m so glad to have been introduced to the combination! Their flavors and textures play off of each other incredibly well, especially when complemented by rich, toasty pine nuts, tangy Pecorino Romano cheese and a bright, simple lemon vinaigrette. Serve this salad atop lettuce leaves for a beautiful first course to a fancy dinner, or enjoy it with poultry or fish as a surprising and light side dish.
Fennel and Apple Salad with Pine Nuts and Romano Cheese (printer-friendly version)
1/2 C (70 g.) pine nuts
2 medium-sized bulbs fennel
2 large fuji apples
130 g. (about 1/4 lb) Pecorino Romano cheese
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 a large lemon (about 2 Tbsp.)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1. In a medium (10″) saucepan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts until aromatic and just beginning to brown. Once they are just toasted, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. Remove the green tops from the fennel, and peel away any brown or bruised layers. Quarter the bulbs, then use a knife to remove the tough inner cores. Slice into thin pieces, about 1/8″ thick. Place in a large mixing bowl.
3. Quarter and core the apples, then cut into 8ths. Slice the 8ths into thin slices, of equal thickness to the fennel. Add to the bowl with the fennel.
4. Slice the Romano cheese into 1/8″ slices, stack them up, then cut into small matchstick pieces (1/4″ by 1″). Add to the bowl with apples and fennel.
5. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Stir until mixed thoroughly, then pour into the bowl with the other ingredients.
6. Add the pine nuts to the bowl, then stir everything to combine.