Fennel Slaw + The Low-Key
Never underestimate the power of the low-key. The low-key girl in your math class that goes on to become valedictorian, the low-key, often aloof character in movies that always, always ends up being the real hero (think Mr. Green in Clue, the movie with the sensational Tim Curry, not the board game), and, in our case here today, the low-key vegetable fennel. By no means should any of these be underestimated.
I came late to fennel. It wasn’t part of my mother’s culinary repertoire. No, the verdant bulb with its crisp, licorice bite wasn’t part of my childhood, my adolescence, or my teen years. It finally appeared on the scene in my early 20’s, I think it was, when I worked for Whole Foods. Ever the brave one when it came to unfamiliar tastes and needing some variety in my then-vegan diet, I saw a fennel dish in the deli’s cold case and ordered a bit of it.
As a life-long devotee of all things licorice, it was love at first crunch. The low-key, unassuming, admittedly freakish looking bulbed vegetable surprised me with its flavor, and satisfied me with its crispy bite. Fennel is deliciously in season right now, and it’s a glorious thing to behold and consume when the lush, watery produce of summer is long gone and foods with munch and heft and cold-storage abilities are the order of the day.
We paired this fennel slaw with a ready-in-a-flash barbecued chicken sandwich for lunch today. Pick up a rotisserie chicken, strip off the meat (leaving the carcass for the dogs and a few meaty morsels for the clamoring cats), add in a bit of homemade barbecue sauce, warm the mixture up, and then dollop hearty portions onto sandwich buns.
The slaw’s salty, floral notes are the ideal foil to the ‘que’s sweetness. A perfect marriage, born of hunger, ingenuity, and a stern commitment to never, ever underestimate the power of the low-key.
-1 Fennel bulb (with stalks and fronds)
-3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
-2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
-2 Tablespoons honey
-1 Tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard
-1 teaspoon dried tarragon
-1 teaspoon celery seeds
-A pinch of salt
-A few grinds black pepper
1) Cut off any dirty outer layers on the fennel bulb.
2) Slice the fennel bulb and fronds into very thin discs.
3) Cut the disks into small pieces.
4) Chop up the fronds.
5) Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-size bowl.
6) It’s best if you let it sit for 20 minutes or longer before serving, to meld the flavors a bit.