Fennel salad with blackberries

Fennel salad with blackberries

fennel salad blackberries platter

If you follow me on social, you probably know that I have not had the best week this week. I skipped my usual Wednesday post as I’ve been feeling a bit burned out. Everything felt like pushing water uphill and I felt like I had nothing left in my tank and I needed to recharge and not think about cooking or recipes (haven’t quite succeeded at that as you can see) for a little while in order to keep on bringing value to this space.

I’m not a robot, although sometimes the way my recipes are delivered into your inbox or show up in your feeds may seem like I am 😉 . Sometimes even I feel like I am! I appreciate technology for all the things it has made possible. If not for technology, I would still be stuck in an office cubicle pouring over timelines, resources and costs of advertising campaigns for a product I did not really care about, wondering where I’ve gone wrong in life to be doing THIS for a living. Don’t get me wrong, by many modern standards it was a job that many people would be happy in, but for me personally it was absolutely soul destroying.

Thanks to technology, and a lot of hard work, I can call THIS my job now and I love it but like every job this one also has a bit of a flipside. The Internet is an insatiable beast that you need to feed on a regular basis in order for your work to be seen by anyone. Once you stop, you very quickly get downgraded by Google and to then dig yourself out of that hole takes months, even years and the less your work gets seen the easier it is to succumb to thinking ‘what’s the point of all that anyway’ and give up.

This is where being a human rather than a recipe generating robot makes it tricky. If you are having a week filled with anxiety and self-doubt and feel like you are incapable of producing anything of value, you cannot just simply take time out. Google does not care WHY you’ve stopped posting, it simply notices that you did and downgrades all your work accordingly as you are ‘seen’ as someone unreliable. It would be better for you to post a picture of your cat (she is adorable but still…) or a recipe on how to brew tea than nothing at all. This is where the pressure is coming from and I would be lying if I said it doesn’t get to me from time to time.

So to appease Google and to hopefully inspire you to try something different, I’ve thrown together a simple summer salad based on two of my old recipes. As you may know, I am a massive fan of fennel (I buy several bulbs a week) – a vegetable that’s a little underappreciated here in the UK. It has a distinct but mild flavour so it does well in so many contexts – both savoury and sweet. It’s great in a simple slaw, in a creamy pasta and in a simple late summer-inspired soup too. I also love it paired with fruit (cherries and grapes, for example), which is what this salad is – it’s a happy union of fennel and blackberries. The mildly sweet, aniseed taste of crunchy fennel shards contrasts with tangy and soft blackberries, which are present both whole and blitzed into a beautiful, burgundy red dressing. A bit of bitter rocket, fresh basil and a smattering of satisfyingly crunchy hazelnuts and the side dish is complete, yet requires little effort. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

fennel salad blackberries fennel radishes

fennel salad blackberries dressing

fennel salad blackberries close up

fennel salad blackberries close up

fennel salad blackberries messed up

serves
4
PREP
20 min
COOKING
6 min
serves
4
PREPARATION
20 min
COOKING
6 min
INGREDIENTS
SALAD

  • a handful of hazelnuts
  • 250 g / 9 oz fennel (1 large)
  • 50 g / 1¾ oz rocket / arugula or other salad greens
  • 5 French radishes, sliced thinly (optional)
  • 115 g / 4 oz ripe blackberries
  • a few fresh basil leaves, shredded

BLACKBERRY DRESSING

  • 85 g / 3 oz ripe blackberries
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or hazelnut oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup, adjust to taste
  • ½ small shallot, finely grated (optional)
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
METHOD
  1. Roast hazelnuts on a dry frying pan, tossing frequently so that they don’t burn. Alternatively, heat up the oven to 180° C / 350° F and spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray. Toast for about 6-8 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Be aware that this second method works better for a larger quantity (2-3 cups) of nuts. Allow them to cool and chop roughly.
  2. Slice fennel on the smallest mandolin setting or slice it thinly by hand, using a sharp knife. Place sliced fennel in a bowl of ice-cold water with 2 tsp of lemon juice to prevent oxidisation. Set aside for 10 minutes, fennel will become crispier and nicer to eat.
  3. Blitz blackberries for the dressing in a small blender (a bullet one like Ninja blender works best). Press the pulp through a small sieve to get rid of the pips.
  4. Add olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup and shallot (if using) to your dressing. Adjust the amount of acidity and sweetness to your taste – it will depend on how tangy / sweet your blackberries are as well as on what balance of those flavours you enjoy.
  5. Drain sliced fennel well. Arrange it on a platter with rocket / salad greens, sliced radishes, blackberries (cut in half if large) and basil leaves.
  6. Pour the dressing over the salad, scatter toasted hazelnuts on top.
SHARE
NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
192
10%
sugars
8 g
9%
fats
15 g
22%
saturates
2 g
8%
proteins
3 g
7%
carbs
14 g
5%
*per serving
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5.0
2 reviews, 6 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Ana:
Hi Ania,I've become a vegan over two years ago. I search internet for new recipes on daily basis. Yours is the best vegan blog out there! Fantastic pictures and amazing dishes - I tried out many and always got something super tasty on my plate. So, please, please, please keep posting - if only for me ;)Any chances of a recipe for a vegan szarlotka? :)Thanks Ana
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thank you for your lovely comment, Ana - it's so nice to hear, especially right now! Don't worry, I don't plan on quitting - I still love what I do and I'm already feeling better about everything having had some rest over the weekend. Yes, definitely! We have an apple tree in our garden and as soon as some apples make an appearance, I will be planning apple recipes (probably closer to autumn!). I am massive szarlotka lover myself so yeah, you've got that in the bank :) x Ania
Ramya:
sorry just saw this now will be making this soon i never had salad before perfect for my after office meals sorry i took a break from commenting on your recipes as busy with work will dm you if make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, hope you'll enjoy it if you do make it! x Ania
Sally:
PS I too love fennel. Have you tried it sliced up keeping base intact, sautéed in oil till browned, 16 whole peeled garlic cloves added, a bit longer.. then 1 cup of veg stock and pepper.. bring to boil, cover simmer 15 minutes. Watch liquid levels. Then throw in a can of chopped tomatoes and boil vigorously to reduce a little. Parsley in quantities and vegan cheese to finish.. good on any carb including instant polenta.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Yes, you mean braised fennel, right? I have and I even have a similar recipe in my test notes but I couldn't quite get it to look very appetising so I gave up on it. Thank you for this reminder, I might work on it some more. Great idea on pairing it with polenta, I shall give it a crack next time I make it. Oh, and I love your method of adding 16 garlic cloves - that's bold and makes me think I need to up my garlic game next time I make it. x Ania
Sally:
Oh Ania! You need a Greek holiday! It is good to understand what it is like to be a top notch internet siter and does sound like a treadmill from your description… I for one would be equally happy with photos of your new bathroom, WIP shots, or the lounge wall colour or your garden or the the eponymous lazy cat of great fame. We don’t need a recipe all the time and you are not a machine. A picture is as good as a thousand words. Be gentle with yourself, you have much to be proud of! Xx
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hahaha, not sure about 'top notch internet siter' but yes, while I love coming up with new recipes, relentlessness of the medium does take its toll on me, now and then... Hahaha, the bathroom looks a mess - to be rectified soon, I'm camera shy, lounge wall colour is just a shade of grey, my garden is so overgrown I cannot even reach my compost heap without getting scratched to pieces and our beloved cat has given us fleas! So yeah, not so glamourous, hahaha - I won't be moving into lifestyle content just yet! ;) Thank you, I shall (I am trying to) practise being kinder to myself so hopefully won't have another crisis soon!! x Ania
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