Fennel & Mint Slaw

The closest I ever came to fennel before adulthood was the occasional appearance at holidays. It was served raw, in slices, as a digestive between dinner and dessert, and we called it by its Italian name finocchio. Of course, we pronounced it with our Brooklyn Italian-American slang, where the end vowels are always left off. You know, mozzarella becomes mozzarell, or sometimes simply mozz (with the “o” always pronounced more like a short “u”). Ricotta is ricott, with the “c” taking on a hard “g” sound. You get the idea.

Language lessons aside, let’s get back to my original intention here: fennel. Its fragrant black licorice flavor was an acquired taste for me, but I’ve become quite smitten with it the last few years. The key to fennel, at least for me, is to slice it paper thin. Almost enough so that you can see through it. That would’ve been my preference for this fennel & mint slaw, but laziness got the best of me, and I didn’t feel like taking out my mandolin the day I set out to photograph this recipe.

Fennel is one of those ingredients that takes on a whole new taste when shaved thinly. The licorice notes seemingly more delicate. That said, I say slice this as you like. If you prefer a crispy crunch to your slaw, then a thicker slice as pictured might be more to your liking. If you want to cheat this recipe into being a relish, then use a box grater, shred it, and let the slaw sit in the fridge 1 to 2 days so the fennel can pickle a bit from the acidity in the dressing. My friend Marina calls this a “cooked” salad. I bet it would be perfect topped on grilled sausages. You can swap in agave or maple syrup for honey if you want to make it vegan friendly.

You can bulk up this fennel & mint slaw with some chickpeas for protein, and a few shavings of Pecorino, transforming it into a salad reminiscent of the one in my cookbook, Homemade with Love. By the way, I’ve been meaning to mention that personalized copies of my book are available here. Soon, I’ll be sharing one of my favorite ways to serve this, as a base for a simple poached salmon. Stay tuned.

Fennel Mint Slaw | In Jennie's Kitchen

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