March 24, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Recipe: Fresh Mint and Fennel Salad with Shaved Parmesan

My announcement of spring's arrival last week, proved – rather to my surprise – to be a tad bit early. While we enjoyed a week ripe with sunshine and immensely nice temperates that permitted one to venture outside sans a winter coat for the first time in months, come Saturday morning we awoke to skies the colour of brushed steel, -2°(C) and whirling snowflakes! Winter, clearly, still had a little more snow to get out of its system – and it decided to do so on my love-i-versary.

No matter though, that’s Canadian weather for you an absolute nutshell and there’s no sense in fretting over it. Though the temps are still rather nippy, I’m optimistic that they’ll soon skyrocket back up and spring really and truly will commence soon (hopefully before Easter – I do so love taking a stroll around the block on the Easter weekend and admiring all of the gorgeous new flowers).

Even if winter decided to linger a little longer outside, inside my kitchen is setting its sights towards springtime foods, which for me always means scores of salads prepared with toothsome, crisp, gently flavoured new vegetables and fragrant herbs.

This lovely salad with its pairing of light and dark green, timeless flavours and ease of preparation makes it a snap to prepare any day of the week, even if your schedule only permits a few minutes to get lunch or dinner on the table.

You could certainly splash a little balsamic or other vinegar of your choice onto the salad greens as well, but I find that with the distinct tastes of mint and fennel and the salty, rich flavour of the parmesan, this dish really doesn’t need a vinegar based dressing.

{Very little olive oil is needed for the joyfully lovely springtime salad, so feel free to bring out the best your have on hand. I personally adore Italian varieties, but am in no way opposed to Greek, French, Californian, or Spanish – such as the tin shown in this vintage La Giralda ad, which comes via Gatochy’s wonderful Flickr stream.}

This fennel and mint salad (which can work wonders for stomach woes, thanks to the fact that both of these ingredients are natural digestive aids) is terrific accompanied by your favourite bread (I love it with Italian varieties such as ciabatta) and/or a light soup for lunch. It also works equally was as a first dinner course, perhaps followed by some wonderful new baby potatoes, grilled seafood or chicken, and finished off with a dessert bursting with gorgeous springtime berries.

Fresh Mint and Fennel Salad with Shaved Parmesan


• 2 large fennel bulbs washed, feathery ferns removed and set aside
• A handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly torn to your desired size
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup (or more if you like) freshly shaved Parmesan cheese (Grano Padano would work great here too)
• A few snips of the feathery top ferns of the fennel bulbs
• Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste (both to taste)


Wash and dry the fennel bulbs throughly, then cut them as thinly as possible (either by hand or with the aid of a mandolin, if you have one).

Next put the sliced fennel into a medium to large sized salad bowl and gently toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Sprinkle in the chopped fresh mint and mix it lightly through the fennel, being careful not to bruise it in the process of stirring.

Divide the salad between four individual bowls, place a few shavings of cheese on top and garnish with a few of the reserved, delicately wonderful fennel ferns. Serve this elegant, flavourful Mediterranean inspired salad at once – perhaps with your favourite vintage Italian movie playing in the background as you bring it to the table.

Serves 4 to 6 people (easily)

Bon appétit!


  1. THis sounds absolutely wonderful!!
    I think fennel is so refreshing!! Hope things are well for you my sweet friend!

  2. Sounds outa this world..would love to try it..I have a massive patch of mint outside...Happy Spring..Cynthia

  3. Yum! for the salad.

    Boo, Hiss! for the snow. I hope it melts soon!

  4. Fennel salad! i love it,..
    Thank you for sharing..Pandora Jewelry Charms

  5. Jessica, this is a wonderful salad. I adore fennel so this had my name on it from the get go. I found your blog by chance, but will be back often to see what is going on. Blessings...Mary

  6. Thanks for sharing another wonderful recipe Jessica! I don't think I've ever had fennel actually, this sounds pretty tasty though :)