17 Jun fennel + green bean salad
This week, we’re being treated to thunder storms and sunny spells. It’s warm and muggy outside, which in my kitchen tends to mean lighter meals for suppers. I’ve put one of my favourite vegetables (fennel) on a plate with one of my least favourite vegetables (green beans). At family functions, I used to pretend I was allergic to peas and green beans to avoid eating them. As an adult, I’ve fallen for them both. Particularly once I learned that green beans taste much better raw, rather than boiled to oblivion, which is how I would have experienced it growing up. Sorry, Mum.
I love the partnership of salty bresaola and aniseed-rich fennel in this salad. Bresaola is a type of air-dried salted beef, usually aged for a couple of months so that it takes on a dark red colour. It’s a Northern Italian specialty, coming from a valley in Lombardy called Valtellina, near the Swiss border. As far as I’m aware, we don’t have an Irish producer doing their take on a bresaola particularly, but there are some excellent butchers and Irish smokehouses making a mean line in smoked meats around the country.
If you’re feeling patriotic, you could swap the bresaola for a few slices of Skeaghanore Smoked Duck from Cork, or a few slices of Fingal Ferguson’s peppery salami from Gubbeen in West Cork. Smoked venison from Cooper’s Hill in Sligo would make a deeply delicious alternative.
Bresaola and blue cheese make a beautiful couple, too. I’m a big fan of Crozier Blue, which is made by the people at Cashel Blue. It’s a creamier, softer sister to this Tipperary staple, and is stocked by Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. You can find out more about the Crozier Blue on www.cashelblue.com.
Fennel and Green Bean Salad
For the salad
1 head of fennel
1 x 250g pack of green beans
3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon of runny honey
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
Half a teaspoon of pepper
Handful of fresh mint
About 8 slices of bresaola
2 slices of bread
2 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese
- Remove the bottom stalk of the fennel head and remaining fennel into very thin slices. Do this carefully with a very sharp knife, or use a mandolin if you have one. Place the fennel into a large mixing bowl.
- Top and tail the ends of the green beans with a sharp knife. Give them a wash and add them to the mixing bowl.
- Make the dressing by mixing together the rapeseed oil, honey, red wine vinegar, the salt and pepper. Drizzle about two thirds of the dressing into the mixing bowl with the fennel and green beans, mixing well.
- Arrange six slices of bresaola between two salad plates.
- Divide the fennel and green beans to the bresaola salad plates.
- Finely chop a handful of the fresh mint and sprinkle over the salad plates. Drizzle over any remaining salad dressing, if you think the salads need a little more.
- Toast your bread and serve alongside the salad, topped with crumbled Crozier Blue.
Kitchen Essential: Cured Meats
Salamis, chorizos and bresaolas have a long shelf life and can come to the rescue during a busy week. I love Gubeen’s cured meats, made in Cork by Fingal Ferguson. Find out more about his line in cured meats on www.gubbeen.com.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on June 16th 2016