This is a salad that I’ve made twice recently, prompted by the unexpected availability of strawberries at local markets, along with the more seasonal fennel that is everywhere right now. It’s inspired by – and quite similar to – a savoury strawberry salad by Michael and Cindy of Where’s the Beef, which is to say, I was sitting there with some strawberries and fennel which I wanted to turn into a salad and was trying to decide what to do next, and then I remembered that Michael and Cindy put parmesan in theirs and realised that this was clearly the ingredient I was missing. Now I look at their version, I realise that toasted nuts of some kind would indeed have been fabulous, so I encourage you to add these.
Judging by the leftovers we had of this at dinner tonight, I would say you might profitably marinate everything except the salad greens and perhaps the parmesan in the dressing for an hour or so before serving (think balsamic strawberries), and then just toss the greens with everything at the last minute. But you don’t have to. It was lovely as is.
Your Shopping List1/2 a red onion (how does one write that, anyway? Writing out ‘half’ looks silly in a list, but there’s no doubt about it, 1/2 a red onion looks pretty damn silly too…) 2 tbsp blackberry vinegar, or balsamic vinegar, since I realise that not everyone is lucky enough to have blackberry vinegar, which is a truly sad state of affairs 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and if it happens to be infused with blood orange, more power to you! 1 medium fennel bulb 375 g beautiful sweet strawberries 150 g mixed salad greens 20 g shaved parmesan black pepper
Now what will you do with it?
Slice the onion, and place in a bowl with the oil and vinegar. Leave to sit for at least ten minutes, to soften up the onion a bit and take out some of its sharpness. Also, your dressing will now me a lot more purple! This is a definite bonus!
Incidentally, now is probably a good time to confess that I have guessed every single quantity in this recipe – it’s all by eye and by taste. Feel free to do likewise – my guesses should be fairly good, but I don’t pretend they are exact.
Slice the fennel and hull and slice the strawberries. Put them in a large bowl with the salad greens.
Add the onion to the bowl, with all the dressing and a little black pepper. Toss everything briefly, then add the parmesan (which, incidentally, is most easily shaved with a vegetable peeler), and toss more enthusiastically, though not across the room.
Eat, rejoicing. This is a very celebratory sort of salad.
This salad is vegetarian, gluten-free, egg-free and nut-free as it currently stands. It would be low to medium GI, because it’s basically green leafy greens and fruit. It isn’t low fructose, and taking out the strawberries means losing the thing that makes it special, so I wouldn’t do that, though if you can tolerate citrus fruits, you might swap the strawberries out for orange segments.
If you want to make this dairy-free and vegan, I’d definitely swap out the parmesan for toasted nuts – walnuts or pine-nuts would be best, I think; hazelnuts would also be lovely, but might add to the general sweetness of the salad, and it does need something to make it salty. Actually, garlicky croutons would probably work nicely, but make sure you put them in at the last minute. Yum.
Two years ago: Domestic pottering, with photos