When I can get my hands on a really perfect bulb of fennel, its flesh clean, white, and unblemished, I like to shred it finely into slices so skinny that they may be nearly transparent and toss them with olive oil and the juice of a lemon and its own finely chopped fronds. I generally cross heavy on the black pepper, too; however, I use best the merest pinch of salt. It is a salad that includes simply the faintest notice of aniseed, however one that marries contentedly with a piece of lemon sole and is almost the suitable accompaniment for salmon.
Fennel is at its most success whilst used sparingly, and with its greater brutish aniseed person calmed by way of lemon juice, cream or yogurt. Slicing the bulb too thickly produces an unpleasantly sturdy note that can dominate any other ingredient. A little is going a long manner. Citrus is fennel’s pal, either in a blood-orange salad with green olives or sautéed with olive oil, lemon juice, and a sprint of white vermouth.
The vegetable and its seeds make delightful ice cream, a block of softly licorice-scented ice with a flavor reminiscent of adolescent trips to the candy store. A reminder of the sound of sugar-lined balls clattering into a scale pan and the rustle as they’re tipped right into a purple-and-white striped paper bag. However suitable the ones aniseed balls have been, the ice cream is higher due to its subtlety and the truth that the extra strident anise notes are subdued by cream, sugar, and a spritz of lemon zest.
The spring sunshine has offered with it a fancy to make chilled soup. Emerald watercress perhaps or calming cucumber freckled with sparkling mint. Instead, I slice a bulb of fennel, cook dinner without shade, then stir through it grated cucumber and radishes, and then yogurt spiked with the intense notes of pickle liquor from a jar of cornichons. Sprightly, uplifting, a bowl of inexperienced and white with which to greet the new season.
Fennel, cucumber, and mint soup
A chilled soup for a spring day. I like to include a piquant element in a mild candy soup consisting of this. A splash of pickle juice from a jar of gherkins, capers, or a spoonful of white wine vinegar will make the soup sing. Like all chilled soup, it’s miles fine served very bloodless, despite an ice dice or two delivered at the table.
lemon juice from the ½ lemon
radishes 12, plus more to serve (elective)
pickle juice 2 tbsp (from a jar of cornichons) or white-wine vinegar
mint leaves 12, plus extra to serve (non-compulsory)
Thinly slice the fennel. Melt the butter in a deep pan, add the water, lemon juice, and fennel, and cowl with a piece of greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Cover with a lid and prepare dinner for about 20 minutes over a low to slight warmth, so the fennel steams instead of fries, cooking without color. When fully soft, the system to a purée in a blender.
Cut the cucumber in half of lengthways, scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon, then grate the flesh coarsely. Grate the radishes and blend with the cucumber. Stir inside the pickle juice or vinegar, the fennel purée, then shred the mint leaves and stir them in collectively with the yogurt.