Crisp Radish, Fennel and Apple Salad

by editor on June 13, 2010

Radish Apple Salad

I have a soft spot for radishes, and enjoy running into these jolly, blushing old friends no matter where my travels take me, as they evoke warm memories of times and lands far away. From the simple summer salads fresh from the vegetable garden of my childhood – just harvested radishes served with sliced hard-boiled eggs, baby potatoes, crisp runner beans and the bright tang of mustardy vinaigrette, to the near-perfect snacks of idyllic summer days in France – crunchy whole radishes, served with fleur de sel, sweet butter and perfect baguettes.

Also in my haul from the Farmer’s Market today, fennel, sometimes known as sweet anise with a beautifully complex flavor, as wonderful raw as it is in all its roasted, deeply savory, caramelized glory. Since today was awash with warm sunshine, citrusy cocktails and evening barbecues, a crunchy spring salad seemed like the only way to do these ingredients justice.

Crisp Radish Apple Salad

Crisp, green, refreshing with perfectly balanced sweetness and acidity and a kick of heat from preserved ginger and chili pepper, this spring salad is a perfect accompaniment to some grilled Copper River Salmon or broiled Goat’s Cheese. It is also wonderful with the addition of some blood orange segments, or wafer thin slices of roasted beets.

Radish, Fennel and Apple Salad
For the Vinaigrette
1 tsp whole-grain mustard (like Pommery Moutarde de Meaux)
 2 tsp honey
5 tsp rice vinegar
8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (don’t substitute a lighter oil, this flavor component is important) ***
1 small chunk preserved ginger, minced (use preserved and not pickled/candied)
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 – 1 small red chili, halved, deseeded and finely shredded

For the Salad
10 large radishes, washed (I used half purple, half red radishes)
1 bulb fennel
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 red onion
1 large or 2 small Granny Smith Apples
1/4 cup mint leaves

Special Equipment
A mandoline helps with all the fine slicing, but is not required.

For the vinaigrette, mix together mustard, honey and vinegar in a small bowl or jug, and slowly whisk in all of the olive oil until blended well. Add in the ginger, garlic and chili. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir and set aside.

Slice onion into the thinnest slices possible, and place in a medium bowl. Top and tail radishes, slice thinly and add to onions in bowl. Cut the the tops off the fennel, saving the leafy fronds. Slice the bottom off the fennel bulb and cut the remaining bulb into quarters. Remove the tough center core from each quarter, then slice the remaining bulb thinly using a mandoline or very sharp knife. Add fennel slices to onions and radishes, then add some lemon juice and toss to prevent the fennel from turning brown.

Half and core apple(s), and julienne. Add to bowl along with a little more lemon juice and toss. Chiffonade the mint, roughly chop the fennel fronds and toss with the other vegetables. Pour half of the dressing over the vegetables, toss and serve with extra vinaigrette on the side.

***If you are gluten-free, make sure the mustard does not contain malt vinegar etc.

Serves about 4.