Over the past few years, fennel has a reserved spot my vegetable bin. Its versatility, carminative properties, and cooling energy has made it a weekly produce staple. When in season, I pick up a small to medium size bulb to incorporate half into a bitter-tart-sweet-slightly pungent juice, while using the stalk and fronds in homemade bone broths and the other half to roast with other seasonal veggies or shaved in a salad.
From it’s seeds to flowers, fennel is used in many cultures around the globe. Commonly known as a digestive aid, fennel is cooling for the body. It is also a diuretic, helps with internal spasms and is considered a carminative herb. I wrote about the benefits of fennel if you would like to learn about it in more detail, click here.
This week, I was craving a slaw-like salad. Something with a little crunch that felt cooling, was refreshing, with a touch of pungent and bitter tastes for balance and did not involve any lettuce. Apparently, all the ingredients also had to be green and white! I guess the colors are illustrative of the season. With warming shades of red, orange and yellow fading away and cooling shades of detoxifying green taking center stage. Green is often a clue that the inherent energy or virya of the vegetable will be cooling. It’s not always 100%, for example, mustard greens are heating, but in general, the color can serve as a good rule of thumb (one of those fun facts I picked up when I was getting my Ayurveda Wellness Counselor certificate).
This simple salad is sort of like a kachumber, a salad meant to compliment a main course. It usually lasts for a couple days and marinades in it’s own juices, while retaining a crunch. My intention was to enjoy it over the next few days with my meals, but my belly had a plan of it’s own. Needless to say, I ate most of what is pictured here for lunch with 1/2 a serving left for my next meal. Ce la vie!
Cooling Fennel, Cucumber & Chive Salad
servings: 2 | time: 20 mins
Season: Spring, Summer
Tastes: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Astringent, Bitter
What you need: a zester and a mandolin or a sharp knife or the slicer side of a grater.
- 1 small fennel bulb, stalks and fronds
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 Persian cucumbers or 1 cucumber
- 1 T finely chopped chives or 2 T thinly sliced scallions (green part only)
- 2 T chopped cilantro (including the stems)
- 1/2 serranno chili thinly sliced
- 1 navel orange juiced
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp orange zest (dried) or zest of 1 orange
- splash of extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- sea salt or pink rock salt to taste
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1. Use a mandolin to slice the fennel bulb and stalks, cucumber and celery stalks. If you don’t have a mandolin, thinly slice all three or use the slicer of a grater. If you plan on enjoying this slaw-like salad for a few days, I would recommend hand slicing the cucumber so it’s a little thicker. This will help retain it’s crunch factor and release less water.
2. In a medium-size bowl, toss the sliced fennel (including fronds), celery and cucumber with the chives or scallion greens, cilantro, juice of 1 navel orange, orange zest, apple cider vinegar, green chili, pinch of salt or to taste and a big pinch of fresh ground black pepper. Let marinade for about 5-10 minutes and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.as
- mix in a dollop of labni or strained yogurt for a touch of creaminess
- turn it into a lettuce wrap by scoping a spoonful in a piece of butter lettuce
- add it to a wrap or sandwich for a little crunch
- serve it over a slice of smoked salmon or broiled fish