My love affair with fennel began a few years back. My mother had roasted a whole chicken with carrots, onions, and this thing called fennel. When roasted in the oven it melts in your mouth and makes you feel good. It took me a while to try fennel raw. Why? Because it smelled just like licorice, which, despite my Swedish heritage, I cannot stand. Fennel raw is a whole other food than when its cooked. When raw it’s sweet and tough, it’s flavor a far off distant twice-removed cousin of licorice. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a strong flavor and I sometimes use it up a little at a time, like a topping…on pizza, or a burger…
Ok now onto anchovies. I promise that even though you say you don’t like ‘em, you’ve eaten something with anchovies and just had no idea. I bet you even said….hmm there’s some ingredient I just can’t place but this is delicious. Well if you’ve eaten at my house you have. Simply put, they are super awesome sea-saltiness in a can. So start using them!
Salads like this help you to remember how vegetables taste fresh. Radishes are peppery and bright, red bell peppers are sweet and happy. Bok choy has that mild cabbage flavor, but it’s packed with water like cucumbers – which has that super calming scent. Red onions are sharp, endives are bitter and kale is, well it just tastes so darn healthy. So all together it’s a pretty awesome medley.
A salad can be a meal. Here’s the proof.
[Prep: 30 minutes / TOTAL: 30 minutes]
- 1 large fennel bulb, washed, de-cored and roughly chopped
- ½ medium red onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 small bunch radishes, washed, greens removed and chopped
- ½ bunch kale, washed, de-stemmed and chopped
- 1 endive, washed, de-cored and chopped
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and cubed
- 1 head of bok choy [or 4 small heads of baby bok choy], washed, outer leaves discarded and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, washed, de-seeded and chopped.
Dressing: [yields almost 1 cup]
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons canola oil or other oil
- 3 fillets of anchovy packed in oil
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice, or juice from 2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper, or about 5 grinds
There’s really not much to the prep for this salad. If you’ve never worked with fennel before, no worries, it’s very easy. Start by rinsing the whole root, making sure to get rid of any dirt or grit that likes to get stuck in the grooves. Then pull off any of the delicate leafy part that looks dark, mushy, or rotten. Take your knife and peel off any brown spots at the bulb and chop off any dried ends of the stalk. Now cut that sucker in half lengthwise and de-core it [the tough part in the center]. Do this by making two deep slices on either side of the core, like an upside down “V” and then pull the core out with your fingers. This part is tough and not fun to eat raw. De-core the endive the same way. The kale should be washed and de-stemmed – just slice the leaf along the stem nearly to the top on each side, discard and then chop up the rest. The outer leaves of the bok choy can look a little worse for the wear, you can throw those out, slice about 2 inches off the bottom and you are good to start chopping. If you are using baby bok choy, discard sparingly since there isn’t much to these little guys and only cut about a ½ inch off the bottom. The radishes need to have their leaves and roots removed and then they are ready to chop. The prep for the rest of the veggies is pretty straight forward. There will be so many textures to this salad so I like to chop everything roughly the same size. If you cut everything really small it becomes more of a slaw.
Now onto the dressing. I toss all of the ingredients into a small food processor, any kind will work. I like to press the garlic cloves into this mixture so that there are no chunks in the dressing. Now all it needs is about 15 second of blending. This dressing is very lemony and zesty; if it’s a little strong for you, add a little more olive oil.