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In-the-way vegetable a delicious salad ingredient

Recipe: Fennel pairs with celery hearts for a crunchy side dish

Fennel and celery slices in a red bowl edged with red leaf lettuce
Dressed and ready to serve, this salad is crunchy and flavorful. (Photos: Kathy
Morrison)

The fennel had to go, there was no question. I had plopped it into a corner of a raised bed last fall when I changed plots at my community garden. But now it was HUGE -- not to mention in the way of the spot where I wanted to put my Sweet Chelsea cherry tomato. And everything I've read says fennel is an anti-companion plant to tomatoes.

So the Giant Fennel of Carmichael was pulled up, and some of it went into a delicious salad. We had it alongside chicken, but it would be absolutely perfect with grilled salmon, if you're so inclined.

Note: As with any salad, the ingredients can be varied to one's taste. The New York Times recipe this is generally based on included radishes, radicchio and slivers of Parmesan, all of which I chose to omit for various reasons. I used about half the dressing, so there would be plenty if you decide to double the salad ingredients.

Fennel bulb on a green cutting board
This is the fennel I used in the salad. It was less than one-third
the entire plant I pulled out.

Fennel-celery salad with lemon and herbs

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

Dressing:

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 or 2 lemons)

1 or 2 garlic cloves, smashed but left mostly intact

Freshly ground pepper

Kosher salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salad:

1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced (save some of the most tender fronds for garnish)

1 celery heart, inner stalks and leaves, thinly sliced (at least 1 cup)

Handful of snow pea pods, optional, halved

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Several basil leaves, thinly sliced

Baby greens, all one kind or a mix, for serving

Garnish:

Reserved tender fronds from the fennel

Parsley and basil leaves on green cutting board
The parsley came from my garden, the basil from a plant I just
bought a few days ago. (It won't miss those leaves.)

Instructions:

Put the lemon juice, zest and garlic clove(s) in a jar or small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil (a small fork works great for this in a jar). Set dressing aside for at least 10 minutes.

To make the salad, put the sliced fennel, celery and snow peas (if using) in a salad bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Remove the garlic from the dressing, and whisk the dressing again to combine. Pour over the vegetables and toss. Sprinkle the parsley and the basil over the vegetables, stir in, and taste, then adjust the seasonings.

Line the edge of the bowl with the baby greens. Sprinkle the fennel fronds over the salad and serve.




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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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