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fennel slaw + combinations


I used to intern at a restaurant where they would marinate giant containers of beautiful, ripe olives in extra virgin olive oil, anise seeds, orange zest and black peppercorns. They were usually served with some hummus, fava spread, baba ghanoush etc, a heavy pour of olive oil and some pillowy, homemade bread. They were such delicious olives though. I was always reaching into the service container throughout the dinner rush for a little flavourful and salty bite.

I’ve always loved little bites of pickled or briny things before or as part of dinner. It feels a bit more social, all of the hands reaching into one plate, maybe a bit discreetly spitting out olive pits, messy fingers etc. It really engages you with the meal and the conversation I think. Lucky for me, my boyfriend shares the same penchant for little dinner time nibbles. Bonus: usually when we eat out and there’s one tempting, little sun-dried olive left on the mezze/appy plate, he happily offers it up to me. Good man indeed.

Recently he got me this amazing book by Niki Segnit. I had mentioned a while ago that I was seeking it out and voila! He shows up to our little weekday hangout with the British edition in tow (where the ‘u’ is included in ‘flavour’ most importantly). I am a huge fan of the Flavor Bible. I strongly believe that it replaces the need for most cookbooks. This quirky and beautifully designed volume goes even further with specific ingredient combinations and why they work. I started perusing it and noticed her entry on orange and olive together. It seemed a bit odd at first, but then I remembered my bite-sized snack of choice during service at the restaurant and how perfect it was. So, here it is in salad form with shaved fennel in place of the anise seeds. I love treating fennel this way because the flavour changes entirely. Not as licorice-y and so, so fresh and crunchy.



fennel & carrot slaw with orange, olives and dill
serves: 4
special equipment: a mandoline or some premium knife skills
notes: The dill really amps up the freshness, but other herbs could work too. Basil has a bit of a licorice note that would be nice or parsley’s peppery quality would fit in too.

1 medium fennel bulb, tops and tough outer layers removed
2 medium carrots, peeled
1/3 cup ripe olives, pitted and sliced
3 sprigs of dill, leaves finely chopped (should end up with about 1/4 cup)
juice of 1 orange (might be different for you, I had a dry-ish orange)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp agave nectar
salt and pepper

Core the fennel: cut the trimmed bulb in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, make triangular-shaped  cuts around the firm core at the base and remove it. Slice the fennel on the mandoline. I try to go pretty paper-thin, but still retaining structure. Place shaved fennel into a large bowl.

With your peeler, make strips of carrot and place into the bowl with the fennel. Add the chopped dill and olives.

Add the orange juice, olive oil, agave nectar, salt and pepper to the fennel mixture and toss with your hands to combine. Mound on a serving plate and garnish with some reserved dill sprigs if you like.

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Ali Seiter21/10/2011 - 9:11 pm

Ooh, does this look yummy! I usually don’t enjoy olives in composed dishes, preferring them as antipasto snacks, but they sure do appeal to me in this salad. What a perfect homage to fall produce.
-Ali.

sweetie24/10/2011 - 3:15 pm

hello there, i recently made a recipe from your blog with great results. many thanks! your directions were very clearly written. loved the ease.

i’ve republished the recipe here with changes to the directions. i did give you credit for the delicious inspiration: http://spilledmylk.tumblr.com/post/11817533600/fruit-parfait-recipe

Laura24/10/2011 - 7:46 pm

Love that you layered it as a parfait :)

Jill @ A Cook's Nook26/10/2011 - 10:33 am

that restaurant sounds like it was all kinds of awesome! I really love fennel and olives, so this is going on my “must try” list. Thanks for the post (as always) :)

Steph@TheChickpeaChickadee16/11/2011 - 12:48 am

Looks fabulous!! I just discovered your blog. Can’t wait to try out some of the recipes you’ve posted.

[…] Anywho, if you’d like to read my first veggie feature on the ever-intriguing and always delightful fennel in the June 22-23 Harmony Valley newsletter, please visit this link! Special thanks to Laura at The First Mess, from whom I adapted two recipes for the feature—her Grilled Fennel and Quinoa Salad as well as her Fennel and Carrot Slaw with Orange, Olives, and Dill. […]

[…] Fennel and Carrot Slaw with Orange, Olives and Dill at The First Mess […]

Joanne05/08/2014 - 4:07 pm

Hello – I love shaved veggie salads like this one and want to start making them at home. What is the best mandoline to have at home for this sort of thing that can handle beets, radish, carrots, fennel, onions, cabbage etc? thank you

Laura Wright12/08/2014 - 8:53 am

Hi Joanne,
This is the one I use: http://www.amazon.ca/Benriner-BN1-Japanese-Mandoline-Slicer/dp/B0000VZ57C
I’ve had it for 7 years now and it hasn’t failed me once–I use it on all the hard root vegetables too. With cabbage, you will have to cut your wedges down smaller to use it, but other than that it’s perfect.
-L

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