It's almost the weekend and it's sunny.... yah!! Time to break out and try a new salad recipe and I've just the one for you. Fennel is one of those vegetables that I never really got; others raved about it, but I sat on the fence. For me, I finally turned the fennel corner when I started eating it raw. Just finely sliced or grated and added to salads and it's just perfection. Now I can't get enough of it. Today's recipe is a variation of an Autumn salad I posted last year, updated to make it a little more summery and to add some blue cheese (my weakness ;))!
Fennel is combined with crisp apple and rocket. Lentils are added and it's dressed with a mustard and chilli dressing that packs a punch. It's finished with crumbled blue cheese and a generous serving of maple candied pecan nuts. Perfect for al fresco dining in the sunshine. PS.... feel free to match with a crisp white wine for the ultimate weekend supper in the sunshine.
Serves 4 -6
¼ cup green lentils
1 fennel bulb
1 red onion
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
1 handful of rocket
For the dressing:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of a lemon
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp dijon mustard
½ tsp chilli flakes
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to season
For the candied pecan nuts:
½ cup pecan nuts
1 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch sea salt
Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover by an inch with boiling water. Bring to a boil on the hob, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for approx. 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and the lentils are a little softer than al dente. If the water boils off before the lentils are tender, add a little more boiling water from the kettle. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them well and add them to a bowl.
Trim the fennel bulb at each end and using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice it very thinly. Peel the red onion and slice it very thinly also using the mandolin.
Remove the core of the apple and chop it into thick julienne strips.
Add the fennel, red onion and apple to the lentils and toss to combine. Allow to cool for about five minutes.
To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk well. Pour over the lentil salad and toss to coat all the ingredients with the dressing.
To make the candied pecan nuts, roughly chop the pecan nuts. Place them in a dry saucepan over a medium heat for five minutes, tossing them every minute. Remove from the saucepan and set to one side. Heat a tablespoon of maple syrup in a saucepan over a low heat until it is bubbling, add a pinch of sea salt and add the toasted pecan nuts back into the saucepan. Stir to coat them in the maple syrup and continue to heat for a minute or so. Remove them from the heat and place them on baking parchment to dry. They will become sticky so place them apart from each other so they don’t stick together. Allow to sit for five minutes.
To finish the salad, top with the rocket, crumbled blue cheese and candied pecan nuts on top. If you like heat, sprinkle another ¼ tsp of chilli flakes on top also.
Serve immediately or keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.