I am having a bit of a fennel phase at the moment. We have been eating it in everything from stir-fries, to curry, to a roast dinner. I particularly love it raw & have made a bunch of different salads with it. Most were to accompany a main meal but I think this one can also stand alone.
This is great lunch because it is vibrant and tasty without any garlic or onions. Let’s face it none of us needs a garlic breath all afternoon. The freshness comes from the two types of lemon which leave no festering aftertaste. You can also make it in advance & it keeps in the fridge for days. In fact the beans soak up the dressing so it is good to make it at least an hour before you want to eat. It will actually benefit from a bit of time in a lunchbox.
I think the flavours are really clean & quite elegant. They are all about lemon & fennel. The fennel seeds echo & enhance the fresh fennel so I do not recommend making it without them. The onion seeds add a slight aroma of onion (without the smell) but are not vital if you don’t have them it will not matter too much. I really like the preserved lemon and would always prefer to have it. It has masses of flavour & also has a gorgeous chewy texture. Fresh herbs are not essential as you can use the fronds from the fennel.
I think this would make a good base recipe to play around with. Other spices would be good, coriander or cumin seeds would work well. I think some crunchy green beans would be a great addition. Use up the veg you have in the fridge. Olives and capers would also add a lovely notes of acidity & salt which I think would be essential if you don’t have preserved lemon.
Fennel & Bean Salad
1 bulb fennel
1 can black eyed beans (or any bean will do)
1/2 preserved lemon
Coriander leaf (or whichever fresh herbs you have to hand)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp onion seeds
4 tbsp olive oil (first press if you have it)
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1. To prepare the ingredients first toast the fennel & onion seeds, rinse & drain the beans, shave or finely slice the fennel & radishes, rinse & chop the preserved lemon & chop the fresh herbs. I also add the fronds from the top of the fennel.
2. Mix all of these in a bowl.
3. Mix the olive oil & lemon juice together & dress the salad with it.
4. Season with salt & pepper to your liking. The salad may also need some extra lemon juice.