Fennel Salad with Celery, Cucumber, Lemon and Pomegranate
The seeds of cultivated fennel, like eggplant, are said to have been brought to France by Jews and other merchants. Of course, wild fennel grows everywhere in the south of France.
I have tasted this salad in many North African French homes. It is very simple, and a lovely counterpoint to all the more elaborate salads of the North African tradition. Once the fennel and celery have begun to wilt a bit, the flavors all come together. If pomegranates are not in season, substitute dried cranberries or cherries.
JFE® note: We know—fennel isn’t the most popular vegetable, but this salad is super fuss free, easy to throw together (in advance, too!) and offers a bright, crunchy note to a holiday meal. Plus, its various shades of green, with a touch of red and purple, is truly representative of Passover, the spring holiday.
- 1 large fennel bulb, fronds intact
- 2 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 cucumber, sliced into rounds
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- Cut the fennel bulb into quarters, then lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices. Snip 2 tablespoons of the fronds, and set aside. Toss the fennel, 1 tablespoons of the fronds, the celery, the cucumber and the onion together in a medium-sized salad bowl. Squeeze the lemon over the vegetables, and drizzle on the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss to coat. Serve, sprinkled with the remaining tablespoon of fennel fronts and the pomegranate seeds.
- Reprinted with permission from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan, © 2010 Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.