I used to think fennel was overrated, bland and too aniseedy at the same time, quite fibrous – a bit pointless. Decorative though, with those bright green fronds and long stems. Clearly I'd been eating it prepared all wrong.
Because fennel salad is a thing of beauty.
I find that some things I’m not particularly keen on are much better raw. Carrots. Cabbage. Tuna (yes, tuna). And fennel turned out to be the classic example. I cannot recall where I first spotted the recipe or the idea – looking it up later I realised that it’s been around for donkey’s and I must have been one of the few people ignorant of that excellent salad. It's simple, even simpler if you have one of those mandolin gadgets, although I favour slicing fennel by hand with a very large, very sharp knife - more satisfying, provided your fingers remain intact. Note that it needs to be sliced very thinly, the thinner the better.
I’ve used orange here to add to the fennel but any other large citrus fruit will do nicely, the trick is to fillet it but it is certainly not as hard as it might seem. Ah well, you can even skip the citrus and just dress it with lemon juice, throw in some pomegranate seeds, chunks of nectarine, coarsely grated apple, chopped dates or raisins, almonds – the best thing about raw fennel is that it’s really a wonderful and versatile background for endless variants.