Spinach, fennel and asparagus salad

Spinach, fennel and asparagus salad

By
From
A Year In My Kitchen
Serves
4

I created this salad for a party given by Tate Modern to celebrate the re-hanging of their permanent collections. Held in the spring, the theme was growth and renewal, so I decided that the food should be as strong and as simple as possible – focusing on the season’s beautiful produce. It was served as a course on its own, but it is also a lovely accompaniment to grilled fish.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
150g young, tender spinach leaves
1 fennel bulb
6 asparagus spears
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
40ml extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, finely grated zest
1 tablespoon finely grated parmesan
1/2 lemon, juiced

Method

  1. Wash the spinach thoroughly in several charges of cold water. Place in a large saucepan with just the water clinging to the leaves after washing and cook over a high heat until just wilted. This takes very little time – no longer than a minute – don’t overcook it. Drain the spinach and set aside to cool.
  2. To prepare the fennel, slice off the base and remove the fibrous outer leaves, then cut the bulb in half lengthways. Place each half, cut side down, on the chopping board and cut lengthways into fine shards, using a very sharp knife – the slices should be almost paper-thin.
  3. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and using the same sharp knife, slice the spears finely lengthways. (Shaved raw asparagus has an interesting texture and excellent taste.)
  4. Squeeze out as much moisture from the cooled spinach as possible (but don’t be so brutal that you bruise the leaves). Put the spinach into a large bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Add the extra virgin olive oil and toss through with your hands – the spinach will absorb the oil and take on a luxurious, glossy quality.
  5. Add the fennel shards, asparagus, lemon zest, Parmesan and finally the lemon juice. Toss very gently with your fingertips – you want to create a feeling of space and air. Taste for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed. Pile the salad on to plates and serve.

Note

  • When I compose a salad, I like to think about every element. First I look at the season – what is around and at its best. Seasonal foods naturally work well together. Then I think about colour, texture and taste – bitter or sweet, gentle or peppery… always looking to create an interesting balance.
Tags:
seasonal
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