It’s been a year of firsts for our allotment as we approach the end of our first full growing season. We’ve grown so many things for the first time this year including sweetcorn, potatoes, cucumbers, onions, radishes and a variety of different beans. Florence fennel is a wonderful vegetable and one that I didn’t have any idea about how to grow and whether it was even particularly doable in the UK. As it turns out, fennel doesn’t love hot weather, so we had a few of them bolt with our hot London summer. All was not lost as we had a few that we planted later that have developed gorgeous, crisp, white bulbs, and I couldn’t be happier with them.
I love to pickle fennel with some orange zest and star anise as a delicious accompaniment to smoked salmon, and I’ve got a fennel jam recipe up my sleeve that I’m looking forward to trying with one of our bulbs. However, it felt like the first one we harvested needed to be given the VIP treatment to really celebrate the fact that we’ve managed to successfully grow such a beautiful vegetable. I decided to hero our fennel in a simple, but vibrant carpaccio-inspired salad.
It’s not a carpaccio, of course, because there’s no raw meat in sight here, just thinly-sliced fresh fennel drizzled with the usual suspects of olive oil, lemon juice and a scattering of parmesan. I’ve added a few slivered pistachios and fennel fronds to lift the colour a little and reflect the colour of the plant, but really it’s all about that clean, crisp fennel flavour. I said it was simple didn’t I?
I’m not an olive oil snob, but using a good quality one in this recipe is worth it if you have it. The fact that there are so few ingredients means that each one has the opportunity to really sing, so your best olive oil will shine here.
Fennel “Carpaccio” Salad Recipe
Serves 4 as a light starter
- 1 fresh fennel bulb
- Zest and juice of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan
- Sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp slivered/sliced pistachios
- 1 tbsp fennel fronds
- Slice the fennel bulb very thinly (this is easiest with a mandolin) across the widest part to get large slices.
- Arrange the slices on a plate and drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle over a pinch of sea salt flakes.
- Sprinkle over the parmesan and the lemon zest.
- Garnish with sliced pistachios and fennel fronds.
I’d love to hear from you if you have a go at making this recipe! Get in touch over on Instagram @plotandlane and tag me in your creations!
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