Fennel and caper salad
By Jessica – April 12th, 2010
Since I posted my first (and only) recipe featuring fennel back in May 2006, I’ve gone from merely tolerating the vegetable to genuinely liking it. I’ve used it in ratatouille, I’ve roasted it under chicken, and I’ve found that it tastes great on a salami pizza.
I recently made the leap from mellow cooked fennel to zingy raw fennel, which makes an excellent salad when shaved thinly and tossed in a lemon dressing studded with salty capers. Incidentally, I thought I was really clever thinking up this combination—until I realized I was inspired by a comment on the fish and fennel recipe mentioned above and by an Italian coleslaw recipe on Epicurious which uses the lemon/caper combo on chopped cabbage and fennel. Having made the Epicurious recipe without using fennel and this recipe using only fennel, I’ve decided I like this one better. It’s a fast, classy treatment for an intriguing vegetable.
- 1 medium bulb of fennel
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
- sea salt and black pepper
Chop the stems off the fennel and peel away any tough outer layers, reserving some of the fennel fronds if you have them. Slice the fennel very thin; if you have mad knife skills you can do this with a knife, but using a mandoline is much faster and easier (just watch your fingers!).
Pile the fennel in a bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, chopped capers, a good dash of coarse sea salt and a generous grind of black pepper (you may want more lemon juice or olive oil depending on the size of your fennel). Mix everything very well; using your hands is the best way to get in there and make sure all the shaved fennel is coated with the dressing. If you have the time, set the salad aside for half an hour or longer to let the flavors meld. Otherwise, just sprinkle the reserved fennel fronds over the salad and serve it as is.
This salad is delicious with summery roast chicken or grilled fish, and it would also sit nicely alongside a selection of antipasti or tapas.
Photo credit: Nick Saltmarsh