Sunday, August 7, 2011

fennel, apple and ham salad with asiago cheese

There are two things in particular that are bad for a cooking blog - traveling and extreme heat. I've been away in Vancouver and New York City (with a week-long break in between) and the weather upon my return hasn't done much for my excitement to cook. All I can think of is how it's going to make our apartment even hotter. That's where salads come in.

This is a good one because, with some bread on the side (and perhaps a second helping), this salad is reasonable as a meal in itself. It's not cheap - the cheese, ham and nuts in particular add up if you don't already have them in the house, plus people don't generally have fennel lying around in their fridge - but if you're looking for a satisfying summer meal, this will do the trick.

Make this salad about half an hour ahead of time.  When nibbling leftovers as I was putting things away, I noticed that it was much nicer after the fennel had been given time to soften in the dressing. Also - this recipe makes a lot of salad dressing. Don't feel like you have to use it all. Use only what you want.

fennel, apple and ham salad with asiago cheese

2 cups thinly sliced fennel (approximately one bulb)
1 cup thinly sliced granny smith apple (approximately one apple)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese (plus more for sprinkling)
8 thin slices of good quality ham
1/2 cup toasted pecans

2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp chopped chives
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine fennel and apple in a salad bowl, then toss with lemon juice. Fold in asiago cheese.

Make the dressing - combine mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, chives, sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Whisk to emulsify.

Place ham nicely on individual plates, then top with salad. Garnish with pecans and asiago.

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