|Fennel Salad with Pear and Parmesan
1 medium fennel bulb, about 10-12 ounces
1 small Asian pear
Crunchy salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel
Wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
First, prepare fennel. If it still has feathery fronds, cut them off at base of stalks and discard. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, trim away any bruises or brown spots on the bulb's outermost layer of "skin." Cut the bulb in half from root to stalk, and trim root end. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline, slice the fennel 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. You're not going for quite paper thin -- that tends to make fennel watery -- but you want it to be close. Set aside.
Next prepare the Asian pear. Using an apple corer, remove and discard core. Then cut the pear in half from top to bottom. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, slice very thinly, just like fennel. Set aside.
Assemble the salad in layers on a large platter. First, make a wide layer of fennel slices. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Then place a layer of Asian pear on top of the fennel. Drizzle lightly with lemon juice, and season with salt. Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin shavings of the cheese, and arrange them on top of the pear. Add another layer of fennel, followed by a light drizzle of oil, and then another layer of pear, lemon juice, salt and cheese. Repeat until you run out of ingredients. You might have two layers of each, or you might have many more; it doesn't much matter. Finish the salad with a good drizzle of lemon juice and a hearty splash of oil, and garnish with a few shavings of cheese. Serve immediately, with salt and pepper to taste. - Makes 4 first course servings or a light meal for two. – Orangette