The combination of ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella is a summer classic; grilled fennel makes it new and exciting. Serve this as a first course, followed by an entrée of grilled fish. For easy entertaining, grill the fennel ahead of time and assemble the salad just before serving.
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, scrubbed, feathery ends trimmed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into thin rounds
1. Preheat the grill to high
2. Cut the fennel lengthwise, from root to stalk, into ½ inch-thick slices, leaving the inner core in place. Brush lightly all over with olive oil ad grill until the fennel is translucent, tender and lightly charred on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Whisk the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle over the tomatoes.
4. Divide the mozzarella slices among four salad plates. Top with the grilled fennel, then spoon the tomatoes with the dressing on top. Serve at room temperature.