This fresh salad is perfect when fennel is young and tender. Make sure you trim off any tough outer leaves before slicing. The salad pairs beautifully with grilled oily fish like salmon or mackerel; the gentle acidity, fruitiness and acid in the salad perfectly balancing the rich oils from the fish.
You can, of course, swap out the oil and vinegar for alternatives, but I think these two offer a beautiful softness to the dish allow all its component parts to sing equally.
- 1 head of fennel
- ½ cucumber
- 1 crisp apple
- Juice from ½ a lemon
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced on the angle
- 25g green olives, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ - ½ tsp chopped fresh tarragon
- ½ tsp honey
- Salt and black pepper
Fill a medium sized bowl with cold water and some ice cubes. Using a mandolin, finely slice your fennel (alternatively just use a knife). Plunge the sliced fennel into the iced water and leave for 20 minutes or so. The fennel will curl up and go ever so crisp. Make sure it is drained and dried well (ideally in a salad spinner), before using.
Meanwhile, peel the cucumber if the skin is thick. Then, continue to peel to create long ribbons of cucumber. Turn the cucumber regularly to ensure you get even widths and stop peeling when you get to the wet core with all the seeds.
Cut the apple into julienne strips and toss well in lemon juice to prevent it from going brown. Finely slice the spring onions.
To make the dressing, simply whisk the rapeseed oil, vinegar, mustard, tarragon and honey together with a generous pinch of salt and black pepper.
Gently toss the fruit and vegetables in the dressing and pile on a serving dish. Decorate with any fronds from the fennel bulb.