Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Fennel Salad

I forget where I first found the idea for this, but it’s pretty much a staple in my house when fennel is in season.  (I like to switch back and forth between this one and the kale salad so I don’t get bored!)

But the really great thing about this is that it’s what I call “measurement-free cooking.”  And that’s exactly what it sounds like.  If you’re just learning how to cook, recipes like this one are great for figuring out how to eyeball ingredients and learn what tastes best to you, and if you’ve cooked for a long time (and are anything like me), you love recipes like this because no measuring = one less dish to wash!  (Oh, come on.  I can’t be the only one who finds that a major plus!)

This is a REALLY simple salad, but if you want something more “main-dishy,” cooked shrimp would be great mixed in just before serving.  Maybe in that case a little olive oil and some Parmesan cheese, too.  And pepper, to taste.  Good stuff.

2 heads fennel, sliced (if you’re cheap like me, you can also chop the big long stalks, but chop them FINELY, because they tend to be strongly flavored.)
juice from 1 juicy lemon, or 2 not-so-juicy ones (you can tell by how squishy they are = the squishier, the juicier)
Salt to taste (but probably a little more than you think you’ll need.)
**NOTE: you can increase or decrease this at will, and it also won’t matter if one batch has a LOT of lemon and the next batch doesn’t.  This is what I mean by measurement-free cooking: it won’t matter if it’s 2 Tbs lemon juice or 1 Tbs or 3Tbs.  It doesn’t matter if you use HUGE fennel bulbs or little ones.  This is a pretty foolproof recipe, as long as you add salt carefully: it’s WAY easier to put more in than it is to take it out, ok?)

The Recipe
HAHAHAHAHAHahahahahaha!!!!  Super easy, here!
Slice the fennel into a bowl. 
Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice all over the fennel.
Salt the top.
Stir the whole thing.
Now let it sit on the counter for a while (ideally for 4 or 5 hours, but I’ve done it for 30 minutes, and it’s still good).  When you walk past it, give it another stir.  After a while, taste it and see if it needs more salt.  If so, add more.  Continue to give it a stir whenever you happen to think about it.  No pressure.

After a while, you’ll notice that the sharp tastes of the fennel and lemon mellow out and create a WAY more savory and complex taste than either of them has alone.  The fennel will still be crunchy but not hard, and the lemon will react with the salt to taste more savory and less sour. 

You can chill it before serving, or just serve it at room temperature.  I’ve done both, and people always ask me for the recipe either way.  It’s that good.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Cool. I’ve neer known what to do with fennel. I am not even sure I’d like it as I don’t really like licorice much. Now I know what to do with it…


  2. Geosomin, you should totally try it this way. I don’t like black licorice at ALL, but once the fennel has sat for a while, it really doesn’t taste like licorice anymore.


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