Summer mixes with autumn: Fennel Salad with Peaches and Blueberries

by Terry B on September 11, 2013

The last peaches and blueberries of summer combine with shaved fennel bulb, just hitting its seasonal stride. The resulting salad is crunchy, sweet and tart, with a refreshing hint of licorice. Recipe below.

fennel-peach-blueberry-salad

The changing seasons are pulling us in different directions. Marion is looking forward to cooking with the apples and pears beginning to appear in growing varieties in the market. I, on the other hand, am thinking wistfully of the summer berries and stone fruits that will soon be gone.

This salad bridges seasons, combining the last of summer fruit with fennel bulbs, just coming into their autumnal own. Usually, fennel is braised or sautéed, often as part of an Italian dish—such as our current go-to weeknight pasta dinner. Here, it’s sliced thin and served raw, making the most of its sweet crunchiness.

Recipes for fennel salads and slaws are numerous and varied. Some contain cheese, some don’t. An impressive array of fruits turns up. Dressings include vinegar, vinegar and  oil, lemon juice, lemon juice and oil… Some recipes call for marinating the sliced fennel, others for iced water baths (I kept things simple and skipped these steps).

I’m giving you one recipe here. Follow it, if you like, but also feel free to use it as a jumping off point for your own ideas.

A mandoline will make quick work of slicing the fennel bulb into uniformly thin pieces. If you don’t have a mandoline—or haven’t made peace with yours—you can slice it by hand with a good, sharp knife. Just slice it as thin as possible.

Fennel Salad with Peaches and Blueberries
Serves 2 or 3

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 fennel bulb
1 peach, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Mix the oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Trim the fennel bulb, reserving fronds. Halve and core the bulb. Slice very thin, using a mandoline, if possible (see Kitchen Notes). Coarsely chop about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the fennel fronds and set aside.

Combine sliced fennel, peach and blueberries in a bowl. Whisk oil and vinegar, pour over salad and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle fronds over salad and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve.

Kitchen Notes

Slicing and safety. I’ll be blunt here. Every recipe you’ll read on fennel salads will blithely say to slice it thinly with a mandoline. That’s it. In practice, at some point, before everything is nicely sliced, the fennel bulb sections will separate. You’ll be tempted to take the remaining small pieces and slice them on the mandoline without the guard. Trust me and the bandage I’m wearing (a minor cut, no biggie) when we say don’t. Instead, slice those remaining pieces with a good, sharp knife.

Win a Calphalon frying pan. If you haven’t entered to win the Calphalon Williams-Sonoma Elite Nonstick pan I wrote about last week, you can still do so through Sunday, September 15. To do so, just visit last week’s post and leave a comment. One entry per person, please.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

randi September 11, 2013 at 10:10 am

I better make this quickly because the peaches are only good in a very small summer window in my opinion. Nice idea with the fennel! I really like fennel. I really really like the fennel, sausage & pasta recipe from “Lidia’s Favorite Recipes” in your earlier post. That’s yummy!

kitchenriffs September 11, 2013 at 10:31 am

Terrific picture! Lovely light, shadows, and texture. And I’m always a sucker for overhead shots. And a darn good salad, too! I’m into “bridge” season salads too, at the moment. I’ve never thought to combine fennel with peaches and/or blueberries — this sounds wonderful. Really good stuff — thanks.

jeri September 11, 2013 at 8:30 pm

My favorite fennel/fruit salad is fennel, blood oranges and Vidalia onions with shavings of parm. Unfortunately, there’s about a three day window of opportunity for those ingredients to be in season at once. You’ve inspired me to consider other combinations. And I hear you on the mandolin issue. Fingertips don’t add anything to the dish.

Terry B September 13, 2013 at 10:39 am

Randi, we really love that sausage, fennel and pasta dish too! A surprising, simple weeknight meal.

Thanks, Kitchenriffs! Your photos are always beautiful, so this is high praise.

Jeri, your fennel salad sounds delicious! I’ve heard red onions work well too, perhaps rinsing them in cold water to tame their lasting bite a little.

Christina September 14, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Oooh, I’m going to tuck this in my idea bank and swap in fuyu persimmons for peaches and something else (maybe pickled grapes?) for blueberries to trot out for my autumn table a little later this year. I wish it were cooling down and getting autumnal around here–we’ve still got a ways to go.

angela@spinachtiger September 17, 2013 at 9:22 am

I like those mixing the seasons recipes. Makes for interesting combos.

Terry B September 17, 2013 at 10:40 am

Christina, those swaps sound delicious. And good luck with your heat!

Angela, that’s one of the great things about this time of year. You’ve got produce from both seasons and changing weather that doesn’t tie you to either strictly no-cook cooking or stick-to-your-ribs slow braises.

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