- 2 large fennel bulbs
- 1 small Asian pear
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup toasted pistachios, chopped
- Wedge of Grana Padano, for grating
Cut off the tops from the fennel bulbs. Remove and reserve about 1/4 cup tender fronds and discard the tops. Core and very thinly slice one of the fennel bulbs, on a mandoline, if you have one. Keep the sliced fennel in a bowl of ice water while you prepare the rest of the salad. Halve the Asian pear, core and thinly slice as well.
Halve the remaining fennel bulb, trim the tough outer skin and remove most but not all of the core. Slice lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick, leaving it attached at the core (you should get about 8 pieces or so.) Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the thicker sliced fennel in one layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the underside is caramelized, about 2 minutes. Turn the pieces and caramelize the second side. Cover and cook until the fennel is tender, about 10 minutes. The fennel should be tender but still hold its shape. Remove to a plate to cool slightly while you assemble the salad.
In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drain and pat the thinly sliced fennel dry. Add to the bowl with the dressing along with the sliced Asian pear. Toss to coat in the dressing.
To serve, arrange the cooked fennel on a serving platter or plates. Mound the salad over top. Sprinkle the pistachios and reserved fronds all around and finely grate a shower of Grana Padano over top. Finish with a grinding of black pepper and serve.