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PUBLISHED: 2:16 PM on Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Italian Beef and Fennel Salad

Total preparation and cooking time: 1 hour

2 boneless beef top loin (strip) steaks, cut 3/4" thick (8 oz. each) or 1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 3/4" thick (1 lb.)

2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1" pieces

8 oz. asparagus, cut into 2" pieces

2 cups uncooked whole-wheat spiral pasta

1 large fennel bulb

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 tsp. garlic-pepper seasoning

Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Heat oven to 425?F. Place bell peppers and asparagus on metal baking pan; spray vegetables with nonstick cooking spray. Roast in 425?F oven 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Set aside; cool. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients in small bowl until blended. Set aside. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions, omitting oil and salt; drain. Set aside; cool. Remove feathery tops from fennel bulb, reserving several for garnish, if desired. Trim and discard fennel stalks from bulb. Cut bulb lengthwise into quarters; remove and discard core. Thinly slice fennel quarters lengthwise. Place sliced fennel, pasta and onion in large bowl. Set aside. Press garlic-pepper seasoning evenly onto beef steaks. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place top loin steaks in skillet; cook 10 to 12 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness (top sirloin steak, 10 to 13 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness), turning once. Carve steak into thin slices. Add steak slices and roasted vegetables to pasta mixture; toss to coat evenly with vinaigrette. Garnish with reserved fennel tops, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Cook's Tip: Fennel is an aromatic plant with a pale green base, celery-like stems and bright green feathery foliage that can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be found near similar root vegetables such as celery in the produce section at your local grocer.


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