Crisp, cheesy fritters made with grated fennel add a crunchy contrast to a green salad; the dressing contributes a little smoky flavor thanks to the bacon.
Mixed Greens with Fennel-Parmesan Fritters and Bacon-Buttermilk Dressing
For the dressing
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced and mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
- 1 small whole scallion, trimmed and finely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon (5 oz.), cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick and cooked until crisp
For the fritters and the salad
- Kosher salt
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed (fronds reserved), cored, and coarsely grated on a box grater (about 4 cups)
- 2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
- 3 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely ground in a food processor (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil; more as needed
- 6 oz. mixed salad greens (6 cups packed)
Make the dressing
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic paste, scallion, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Crumble the bacon and whisk it in. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
Make the fritters and assemble the salad
- Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Add 1 tsp. salt and the fennel and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until cool. Press out as much water as possible from the fennel, and then transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pat dry with more paper towels.
- In a large bowl, gently mix the fennel with the breadcrumbs, Parmigiano, eggs, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
- Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Using your hands, form a heaping tablespoonful of the fennel mixture into a patty about 1/2 inch thick. Add it to the skillet and repeat to make 3 more patties, adding them to the skillet as you form them. Cook, turning once, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat, in batches, with the remaining fennel mixture, adding more oil as needed.
- In a large bowl, toss the greens with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat. Divide among 6 plates, top with the fritters, and then drizzle with some of the dressing. Garnish with some of the reserved fennel fronds and serve immediately with the remaining dressing on the side, if you like.