Updated: Apr 26
Sometimes a salad stands out as spectacular, and this is that salad. It pops with bright flavors with hints of Moroccan elements. This salad takes a touch of work, mainly roasting the fennel and tomatoes, but otherwise it is simple. The fennel is roasted with chili flakes and fennel seed, and the tomatoes are roasted with harissa and balsamic. Together the salad has flavors that explode, tart from the preserved lemons and vinagars, sweet from the honey, spice from the harissa and chili flakes and herby from the fennel and cilantro. This salad is a keeper. One of the problems of having too many cookbooks is that there are not enough days in a year or people or reasons to cook from them all the time. I generally trend toward 275 recipes a year, see my blog. Occasionally, a batch of cookbooks show up, this time all of them from this chef and author, Diana Henry, who is one of my very favorites. It took me some time to arrive at this recipe, one that I have eyed for someime. Like all her other cookbooks, this recipe and cookbook is outstanding. All her cookbooks bring a wonderful diversity of flavors and cuisines to my table. Go out and buy all her cookbooks, I cannot recommend them enough!
For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.
For the tomatoes: 10 large plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons regular olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1½ tablespoons harissa paste
2 teaspoons caster sugar
Sea salt flakes
Ground black pepper
For the fennel.
2 large fennel bulbs
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (coarsely crushed in a mortar)
1 generous pinch of chilli flakes
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
For the dressing 1 small preserved lemon plus 2 teaspoons juice from the jar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons runny honey
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F..
Halve the tomatoes lengthways and lay in a single layer in a roasting tin or ovenproof dish. Mix the regular olive oil, balsamic vinegar and harissa and pour this over the tomatoes, tossing to coat well, then turn the tomatoes cut sides up. Sprinkle with the sugar and season.
Quarter the fennel bulbs, cut off the stalks and remove any coarse outer leaves. Pull off any tender fronds (reserve these) and cut each piece of fennel into 1 inch thick wedges, keeping them intact at the base. Toss in a bowl with the lemon juice (it stops them discolouring). Add the garlic, fennel seeds, chilli and extra virgin olive oil, then season and turn everything over with your hands. Spread out the fennel in a second roasting tin and cover tightly with foil.
Put both trays in the oven. Roast the fennel for 25–30 minutes, until tender (the undersides should be pale gold), then remove the foil and roast for another 5–10 minutes, or until soft, golden and slightly charred. Roast the tomatoes for 35–40 minutes, or until caramelized in patches and slightly shrunken. Stir the chickpeas into the fennel and taste for seasoning. Leave both to cool to room temperature.
Now make the dressing. Discard the flesh from the preserved lemons and cut the rind into dice. Whisk the wine vinegar with the preserved lemon juice, runny honey and extra virgin olive oil, season and add the lemon rind and coriander. Taste for seasoning and sweet-sour balance.
Arrange the fennel, chickpeas and tomatoes on a platter, adding all the juices from the roasting tins; there might be quite a bit from the tomatoes. Scatter any fennel fronds you reserved over the top. Spoon on the dressing, or serve it on the side.