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Chef Ilona Daniel uses a Japanese mandolin to slice up some fennel. The mandolin, which Daniel recommends using with a guard to avoid any accidents, can be used for a variety of applications like making coleslaws or slicing up fruit. - Mitch MacDonald
Some of the ingredients used in the stacked salad include fennel, chives, oranges, lemon, pancetta cooked with a maple syrup glaze and sliced apples. - Mitch MacDonald
Chef Ilona Daniel puts some lemon zest on apple slices to bring some spring-time flavour to her stacked salad. The juice of the lemon, as well as an orange, will also help tenderize the fennel and apple used in the salad. - Mitch MacDonald
Pancetta can be covered in maple syrup before its cooked to give it a carmalized flavour. The pancetta can be substituted with prosciutto or bacon, while maple syrup can be substituted with honey or guava syrup. - Mitch MacDonald
Chef Ilona Daniel holds up a stacked salad made with fennel, orange, lemon, blue cheese, pancetta, toasted pecans and apple. The recipe is a unique dish with Italian flavours that can be served as individual portions or family-style on a platter. - Mitch MacDonald
When you think of Italian flavours, do tomato, garlic and basil immediately come to mind?
Those are, of course, the ingredients which have translated most easily, but there are other components which are undeniably Italian which need to be explored with more vigour.
I lived in Italy for a short time in the early days of my career. I was an apprentice seeking to build my knowledge and skill set. I had never been to Europe before my apprenticeship and I did not speak Italian fluently. Jumping headfirst into the unknown is akin to adventure in my experience, and I never say no to an opportunity to grow.
I lived in a small medieval walled-in village with a population of 80 people. Every aspect of my new home was such a departure from the life I knew. In the kitchens, I worked with ingredients I had never seen before such as whole game birds which needed de-feathering and unique bitter lettuces specific to the area I was living in.
Fennel was an ingredient I fell head over heels for and ate it regularly. Fennel is a strange-looking vegetable closely related to carrots and dill. It is a white bulb composed of tightly bound layers with the delicate flavour of licorice. Fennel can be cooked slowly to allow for tender, delicate sweetness or served raw with a fantastic crunch. I love eating fennel bulb raw in salads and slaws, and the recipe I’m sharing with you pairs fennel with some of its best flavour friends, including orange, lemon, blue cheese, pancetta (Italian cured bacon) and apple.
I’m not one for using too many gadgets, but for this salad I lean heavily on the Japanese mandolin. A mandolin is slicing tool that has interchangeable blades allowing for a variety of cuts. For this recipe, I use the mandolin to shave slices of both the apple and the fennel. I then toss the aforementioned in orange and lemon juice which tenderizes them.
I candy the pancetta with some maple syrup to accent the sweetness of the fennel and add some toasted pecans to enhance the overall textural experience of the dish. I like assembling this salad in a stack, layering each of the components to provide visual appeal. You can serve the salad as individual portion or serve it family style in a platter. This salad is a great side dish to grilled pork chops, chicken or fish. I suggest making it as close to serving time to preserve the textures of all of the ingredients. If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, goats’ cheese or feta make fine substitutes.
See recipe below video
Fennel-Apple and Maple Candied Prosciutto Salad
Created by: Chef Ilona Daniel
For the salad:
- 2 Granny Smith apples, sliced as thinly as possible (use a mandolin if you have one)
- 2 Gala or other Red Skinned apples, sliced as thinly as possible (use a mandolin if you have one)
- 1 large bulb fennel, sliced as thinly as possible (use a mandolin if you have one)
- 4 Tbsp chives, finely chopped
- 6 Tbsp blue cheese or goats’ cheese, crumbled
- ¾ cup pecans, toasted
For the candied prosciutto:
- Brush maple syrup or maple butter on both sides of prosciutto and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated 325F oven. Bake until the prosciutto is crispy.
- 8 slices prosciutto
- ¼ cup maple syrup or maple butter
- For the dressing:
- 2 Tbsp organic canola oil or oil of your preference
- Juice of 1 orange
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- Put all dressing ingredients into a bowl that is deeper than it is wide which will make it easier to build the salad stack.
To build the salad:
Begin to build a small stack of the apples, fennel and prosciutto. Dip the small stack into the dressing and place on a plate. Repeat this again to using a quarter of the ingredients for each salad portion. Garnish the salad with chives, pecans and cheese.