Summer is my favourite time of the year to eat! I probably said this about winter in some other recipe but this is my MOOD right now! This Fennel & Apple Salad is up there as one of my favourite things to eat ANY time of the year, but summer is the time it's made the most often. It's kind of like a fennel & apple slaw, only there's no mayonnaise in sight, so I prefer to call it a salad. It originated from another fantastic salad - my Italian Fennel & Orange Salad - I think I'd run out of oranges, so tried with apple and I must say, I loved it!
It has the right balance of savoury and sweet and has the most wonderful crunchy texture. If ever two foods worked so well together it is fennel and apple. Fennel with its light aniseed and apple with its tart sweetness together make for a triumph in taste.
It's a super simple dish to put together and a perfect part of a healthy array of salads to accompany meat, fish or as an all-vegetable spread. I particularly love this fennel & apple salad with a thick, juicy pork chop that I've seasoned simply with salt & pepper and charred on the grill (bbq). Pork, apple and fennel - the trifector!
If ever there was a dish that is my most requested by friends and family it's this! I sometimes try and persuade them to eat my other Italian Fennel & Orange salad, but invariably there's a stand-off until I promise to make the apple version. Some friends like it with fish, especially salmon, others like me, love pork, lamb or chicken. Try one of my western meat marinades from my 18 Marinades from Around the World, like the Greek or the Italian and pair it with this fennel & apple salad.
To get the flavour amped up I use a combo of white wine vinegar, lemon and extra virgin olive oil as the dressing. Another tip is to separately soak both the red onion and apple in a little lemon juice too. It brings out the natural sweetness in both and also stops the apple from oxidising and turning brown. On the subject of apples, be sure to choose a crisp, crunchy apple like pink lady, honey crisp, fuji or golden delicious. These varieties work the best.
Fennel, sometimes called anise or aniseed is a bulb with thick white layered skin at the base, long green stems and fine, grassy leaves at the top. It has a light aniseed flavour and can be eaten raw or cooked. We use it for taste AND texture. For this recipe I use the white base and a little of the leaves only - but, always keep the stems for soups and stocks. Don't thrown anything away!
Substitutions and serving suggestions
As well as oranges, i've made this dish using pear instead of apple which was a good option, just be sure to get crisp pears and not soft, ripe ones. I'll often change up the herbs and have used tarragon, which also has an anise flavour - I've also used oregano, marjoram and basil alongside the parsley. It's pretty versatile. And lastly, I'll sometimes replace red onion with white or spring onion.
So, once you have this salad down, you'll be good to go for many different preparations and parings. Check out some of the other recipes that would work wonderfully alongside.