Pickled Fennel and Salmon with Beans & Arugula

by Judith Hausman, The Hungry Locavore at Urban Farm Online

Fragrant and crunchy, local, organic fennel is smaller than the big supermarket bulbs and delicious raw. For this salad, it’s just pickled for a day or two with a licorice trifecta: aniseed, fennel seed and star anise. Make this dish mid-summer through harvest for a special lunch, first course or light salad dinner. Canned beans are fine but if you have time to simmer some at home (with bay leaf, peppercorns, the fennel fronds and a saved cheese rind or two), they are even better. I used cranberry beans but white beans or chick peas work nicely as well.

Italian or Spanish salmon packed in olive oil is essential and serves as dressing when you toss the salad with the pickling juices. Look for delicate, small arugula but larger, torn leaves are also good. Consider a handful of good olives as well and supply some crusty bread for scooping up the salad.


Pickled Fennel and Salmon with Beans & Arugula

The fennel:

1 whole star anise

1 tsp. aniseed

1 tsp. coriander seeds

1 tsp. fennel seeds

¼ tsp. cumin seeds

about 4” lemongrass stalk, outer layer removed, chopped

zest of ½ lime (Substitute orange or lemon if you like)

½ c. rice vinegar

½ c. apple cider vinegar

3-4 Tbs. olive oil

1/3 c. sugar

 2 Tbs. kosher salt

1-2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced, some fronds reserved and chopped

Mix all ingredients except the fennel. Simmer or microwave for 1-2 min. until the salt and sugar dissolve. Transfer to a non-metallic container and stir in the fennel. Cool and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, turning the fennel occasionally.

Assemble the salad:

2 cans of cranberry beans, white beans or chick peas, rinsed (or a half-pound of home-cooked beans)

1 small can olive-oil packed salmon

8 oz. baby arugula

¼ c. black olives (optional)

salt & pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, pile the salmon with its oil, the rinsed (if canned) and drained beans, the washed arugula (torn if large), spun dry and the fennel with all its pickling juices. Toss well and season to taste.