Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad

It has been one month since I started this blog and if you are a frequent follower, then you have probably learned a few things about my cooking style in the Kettler household:

1. I like to add pork products to vegetable dishes so Ryan will like them better (example, red cabbage and this salad).
2. I am not scared to use any of the wide spectrum of seasonal vegetables
3. I love making salads (Moroccan salad, Chef salad, Kale Salad)
4. I will scavenge the fridge and pantry to come up with a dish or recipe that suits our palette (whether it works or not, is up to Ryan)!!

Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad | www.kettlercuisine.com

This recipe fits all the aforementioned criteria. I first made this salad several years ago, when I was not very familiar with fennel. I was skeptical because raw fennel has a licorice or anise scent and flavor, which is not my favorite. However, I discovered by roasting it, the vegetable actually becomes sweet and savory at the same time. Pairing this with a buttery pancetta, makes a mundane vegetable insane!

This is now a staple in our household and made quite often for guests and on a random Monday night. I try to get the fresh thick slices of pancetta from the deli, but sometimes you just got to save on time and Trader Joe's enticed me with this ready-made package!

Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad | www.kettlercuisine.com

Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad

Yields: 4 salads

Prep Time: 15 minutes 
Cook Time: 20 minutes

2 bulbs of fennel, quartered and core removed, then 1/4 in. slices
2 thick slices or a 4-6 oz. container of pancetta (the container will be pre-diced as shown above)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mixed salad greens

Red wine vinaigrette:
tablespoons red wine vinegar
tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, toss together the fennel, pancetta, garlic, brown sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and place the ingredients on the baking sheet in a single layer.

Cook until the pancetta is crisp and the fennel is caramelized, which is about 20 minutes. Let the fennel and pancetta mixture rest out of heat for about 5 minutes before serving. If this is too hot, it will wilt the mixed greens.
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl except the olive oil. Mix well and then whisk in the olive oil to emulsify the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

I like to make double the fennel and pancetta because it serves as a great topper on sandwiches, scrambled eggs, chicken, wraps and other salads! I actually had some scrambled into my eggs this morning for breakfast. Delicious!! 

Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad | www.kettlercuisine.com

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