Jack: “I feel like grilling…what would you like for dinner?”
Iron Stef: “Can you grill fennel?”
Jack: “We can try…”
So began a tale of two dinners. I wanted grilled fennel. Jack’s challenge was to a) figure out how to grill fennel and b) figure out what else to have with it. He came through with flying colors…
As for grilling the fennel, he simply cut the stems off and cut the bulb in half, trimming the root bottom off just enough so that the leaves all remained together in one unit.
For the main dish he chose salmon. He made a baste for the salmon by melting gobs of butter and adding minced garlic, salt, white pepper, lemon zest, and the chopped up fennel fronds. He also put some of the fennel stalks in to further flavor the butter. All this simmered for about 10 minutes then was taken off the heat to steep while the salmon and fennel bulbs were prepped.
He used the fennel butter to brush on both the fennel and the salmon as they were grilling. And that was about all there was to that dinner. It was lovely. Grilled fennel is amazing. And with grilled salmon? A great match.
Such a great match in fact, that the next night we grilled more fennel and more salmon! This time, however, we decided to make a salad out of them, to eat with crusty warm bread.
Grilled Salmon and Fennel salad
1 frozen pre-portioned skin on salmon half
2 medium bulbs fennel, with stalks and fronds
1 can cannellini beans
Rice wine vinegar
1. Cut stalks off fennel, reserving the fronds. Cut the bulbs in half so you have 2 fairly flat halves that hold together at the bottom.
2. Coat the fennel with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Do the same with the salmon. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the seasoned salmon.
3. Grill the fennel and the salmon on a pre heated grill, brushing occasionally with olive oil. After everything has been turned once or twice, squeeze the juice of one lemon over everything. Continue cooking until fennel is slightly soft and has dark grill marks, and salmon is cooked through.
4. Let everything cool a bit, before slicing fennel into pretty thin strips, and flaking the salmon off the skin (don’t you dare throw that skin out! Eat it! It’s delicious!!). Place into a bowl together. Add rinsed beans. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of vinegar, and season with salt, pepper and white pepper. Toss gently and serve with crusty bread.
Yum yum. A perfect end-of-summer salad. And it made a lot, too! Which is great, because the salad is even better the next day, eaten cold. You may want to have a spare lemon around to freshen it up a little.