Mettere il finocchio fra le mele, add fennel to apples, is an Italian proverb. Whether people, situations or aromas – it is precisely the supposedly dissimilar that often results in a great combination. Just like with this fennel salad.Jump to Recipe
Add fennel to apples – and even more
In Italy, the combination of apples and fennel is highly appreciated. This salad is usually eaten as a side dish with meat. But it also tastes super as an antipasti. And these flavours all play together: intense fennel, sweet apples, crunchy nuts and, as a link, the elegant and mild sourness of a cedro, a large, thick-skinned citrus fruit (citron). If you like, a little chilli can be added to the salad to give it a tangy spiciness.
The healthy tuber
Fennel is low in calories and rich in vitamins, fibre and minerals. It is good for the stomach and aids digestion. It also relieves cramps, especially as a tea from the seeds, and promotes milk production in nursing mothers. Not only Italian women have been aware of the beneficial properties of fennel for centuries. But this ancient vegetable and household remedy also has dark chapters in its history.
On fraudsters and the persecuted
The strong aroma of fennel seeds can mask bad smells and tastes. This was already used by innkeepers in ancient Rome to sell almost spoiled food to their customers. Infinocchiare therefore means nothing other than “cheating”. And finocchio in Italy also means a homosexual man. Probably a remnant from the darkest period of the Inquisition: homosexuality was punished at the stake. An abundance of fennel seeds was supposed to make the stench tolerable.
Fennel Salad with Apples and Nuts
- 2 fennel young bulbs
- 2 apples
- 1 citron
- 50 g nuts pine nuts or walnuts
- olive oil
- ¼ chili pepper
In a frying pan, roast the nuts without fat, but with a pinch of salt until golden brown. Let the nuts cool down on a plate. For a crunchy effect, you can also caramelise walnuts with a little sugar.
Wash the citron, fennel and apples. Peel the fennel thinly if necessary, remove the stalk and cut into bite-sized slices like the apples. Juice half a citron. Cut the other half including the edible skin and white inner skin into fine strips. Mix the citron, fennel and apples in a bowl and marinate with citron juice, salt and olive oil. Serve garnished with the nuts.
If you do not have a citron at home, you can also use a lemon or lime. It is best to use untreated fruit. Besides the juice, grate some peel into the marinade. If you like onion, add some finely chopped slices to the salad. Sweet red or purple, for example, Tropea onions, taste best.