Admittedly, I used to hate fennel. This, however, is what converted me.
It’s summer here now, so these kinds of recipes are literally perfect. They’re refrigerated and cold, really easy to make, and require minimal extra heat creation in the kitchen. It’s also an excuse to buy crusty bread and tear it apart into chunky, non-sliced, rough, get-in-my-mouth sized pieces – YES. PLEASE.
Fennel is an interesting one though. It’s got quite a perfume flavour, and can be over-powering if you don’t use it with the correct ingredients. In all honesty, it doesn’t smell like something I’d pick up in the wild and call edible, so I still feel like I’m handling a food that requires careful preparation in order to remove all the poisonous parts (this is, of course, entirely not true… the worst that can happen is you get a bite of planty-tasting fennel shoot, which is nothing more than a momentary “ewe”).
This recipe really only calls for four main ingredients, because the sauce – although really good – is honestly so easy to adapt according to what you have in your fridge and pantry. Vinegar sauces work well, though, to counter-act the fennel’s harshness, which is why mayonnaise works super well in this recipe. But, as I said, you could get away with a little creativity quite easily, and I’d be really interested to know what you try, so please leave those in the comments below.
When cutting fennel, I usually try and avoid really big pieces just so your forkfuls are as nicely balanced between the fennel and the other ingredients. There are some people that really like fennel – like, really like fennel – but since they’re almost as rare as fennel tea in café these days, rather be safe and cut them slightly finer.
For the bell peppers, I would avoid using green, but I guess any other colours could work really nicely as well. You just want the sweet crunch, as the fennel gives you the – well, the “fennel crunch,” and both yellow and orange peppers would achieve that. I would even say mix them, and see what that tastes like!
As I said earlier, digging into some really rustic bread is thee best excuse for making this recipe. Normal salads don’t always need bread, but you cannot just leave the leftover sauce on the plate without an ounce of guilt, right? SO: get some really nice ciabatta, or toast some Landbrot or rye bread – or even make your own! – and soak up that mayo-eggy-fennel goodness!
Trust-me: it sounds slightly weird, but you do not understand how subtle all the flavours become when put together. It’s amazing.
Tuna & fennel salad
Makes 4 servings
6 free-range eggs, boiled
2 red bell peppers (or yellow, or orange, or a combination – not green though!)
2 fennel bulbs
2 tins of canned tuna
4 tbsp dairy-free mayonnaise
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp paprika powder
optional: crusty bread to serve
- Boil your eggs until firm in the middle.
- While your eggs are boiling, cut the fennel and red pepper and set into a large bowl.
- Add the tuna.
- Slice your boiled eggs and add into the bowl.
- Add the other ingredients, and mix well.
- Leave in fridge for 30 minutes to an hour to cool, and then serve chilled (not necessary, but I prefer my salads cooled down. This can be served straight away, though).
- OPTIONAL: serve with some crusty bread.