When I went to see my local farmer, Bradley from Hat & Heart Farm, he had some beautiful fennel available. I tend to think of fennel as a fall vegetable due to its anise like flavor. Why not try it in a more summer flavor forward salad? I was up for a challenge.
Roasting veggies to bring out their natural sweetness is one of my favorite things to do. I don’t want them to get too soft but the layers of flavor you get from roasting can’t be beaten. I tossed some sprigs of thyme onto the fennel along with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The farro is cooked in vegetable broth. It can be cooked in chicken broth, water or even apple cider. For some acid, I added both lemon juice, zest and sherry vinegar. Using fresh herbs will brighten any dish. I use parsley and mint in this rendition. Maybe next time, I will use some dill.
The saltiness from the olives and feta creates a wonderful contrast to the nuttiness of the farro. I love this salad and think it is a fantastic dish to bring to a potluck with you this summer.
A salty summer salad with roasted fennel
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed sheet pan, combine fennel, thyme, a large pinch of salt and black pepper, and 2tablespoons oil, and toss to coat. Spread in an even layer.
Roast until golden brown and tender, 20 to 30 minutes, tossing after 10 minutes. Discard thyme.
While fennel is roasting, make the farro: In a medium pot of
add vegetable stock, farro and bay leaf. Cover and cook until tender according to the package directions, usually 10 to 25 minutes. Drain, discarding bay leaf, and pour farro into a large bowl.
Grate zest from the lemon into the bowl with
the warm farro, then halve the lemon and squeeze in the juice. Stir in remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar and ¾ teaspoon salt. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Add roasted fennel and red-pepper flakes, and toss to combine.
Stir in herbs, olives and scallions. Mix in feta and
pine nuts right before serving.