Browsing through the farmers’ market last month I spotted a box of fennel bulbs, two for £1.50. The last time I bought fennel it was for a particular recipe, and I paid quite a hefty price in the supermarket. That recipe (a delicious salad of fennel, watercress and pear with a lime dressing from Nigel Slater’s beautifully written ‘Kitchen Diaries’) was too wintery for a sunny May afternoon, but I had oranges and sunflower seeds at home. Instant inspiration. The delicate aniseed crunch of the fennel combines beautifully with citrus.
Today the market made its monthly appearance and I quickly hunted out the fennel, managing by great strength of will (and an empty wallet) to avoid the temptation of cakes, handmade chocolates and posh cheeses.
As it happens it’s grey as Mordor out there today, so I came home and had pasta. The second the sun comes out though, that fennel is for the chop!
A Summery Fennel Salad
Wash and very finely slice two bulbs of fennel
Toast and lightly crush a generous handful of hazelnuts, or use sunflower seeds or a combination.
To make the dressing, whisk the juice of two freshly squeezed oranges with olive oil, Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Adjust to your taste.
Spread out the sliced fennel in a dish, pour over the oil, add the nuts/seeds and gently combine.
Wensleydale cheese goes really well with this salad, perhaps with some fresh multi-seed bread.