Caramelized Fennel and Goat Cheese Salad

The name of this dish says it all. The subtle sweetness of the confit tomatoes and caramelized fennel, the tartness of the cheese and the salty crispiness of the pancetta are a delicious blend. Serve this salad hot or cold on its own, or as a side dish to any protein.
By Chef David Robertson, The Dirty Apron

Caramelized Fennel and Goat Cheese Salad

  • 4 heads of fennel, stems removed
  • 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c sherry vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c pancetta, in paper-thin slices
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 bunches of watercress, torn into pieces
  • 20 confit tomatoes
  • 1 c crumbled goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Slice the fennel into 1-inch-thick pieces and arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan. Drizzle with maple syrup, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss lightly until the fennel is evenly coated.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the fennel is golden and caramelized. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the pancetta on the baking sheet, sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar and bake for 4 to 7 minutes or until crisp. Set aside. To assemble the salad, layer the watercress and fennel on a plate, then garnish with confit tomatoes, pancetta and goat cheese. Enjoy!

Chef’s Note Save the olive oil from the confit tomatoes to confit other foods, or use it in salad dressings or drizzle it over finished dishes as you would other flavoured oils.