shaved fennel, nasturtium and radish salad with honey mustard dressing

Fennel is one of my all-time favourite things to eat. Shaved thinly and dressed with a little lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper it’s something I crave, often. It's all I yearned for while pregnant with Ada (okay, cottage cheese and tomato on toast also tasted like the best thing on earth) and it seems both our kids have developed a taste for fennel too. They fight over who has the biggest bowl of salad if it contains fennel, making me the proudest mum in the world!

Thankfully for us, fennel bulbs are ridiculously cheap in Perth. I pick up 3 large bulbs for only $5 from our local vege store and even though I do love them cooked, we generally eat them raw. I make salad most days and at the moment we are picking a large bowlful of fresh rocket and mizuna leaves everyday from the garden to add to these. I totally recommend growing salad greens, nothing beats the instant gratification you get from growing your own (all within only 4 weeks of planting!)

Along with the rocket and mizuna growing madly in the backyard we also have wild nasturtium flowers popping up everywhere. When I was little they grew all over our property, covering whole hillsides with their bright bursts of colour. I remember Mum used to always try and sneak the flowers into our salads and while they are beautiful and I'm a big fan now, I’m pretty sure we picked them out, every time. Just like my kids did with this salad.

If you haven’t eaten nasturtium before I’d liken it to watercress. They have a similar peppery taste that tingles on the tip of your tongue. They pair beautifully with the equally as peppery rocket and radish, the aniseed flavours of the fennel and mustard notes from mizuna. I decided to use a cider vinegar based dressing, but fresh lemon juice would be just as lovely, or even a combination if you can't decide. If you tolerate dairy I imagine a few shavings of Parmesan or a crumbling of feta wouldn’t go astray.

Lastly thank you for all your well wishes in regards to Si's fractured ankle. It's been pretty full-on, but he now has a cast on and the specialist said it should heal fine in about 4-6 weeks. Also to Rach who asked which brand of gluten-free, dairy-free biscuits I used in the chocolate tofu peanut butter pie recently; I've now posted a link to the brand I use on that post.

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shaved fennel, nasturtium and radish salad
I use baby capers in wine vinegar, but regular ones would be fine. If you use salted capers, simply rinse before using. The nasturtium is a lovely addition, both for flavour and colour, but if you don't have any growing near you don't stress, just leave out. Check your Dijon mustard label to make sure it doesn't contain flour, some of the cheaper brands do.
serves 4 as a side
  • 1 medium fennel bulb (approx 350g)
  • 6 medium radishes
  • 1 tablespoon capers (in vinegar)
  • fennel fronds, finely chopped
  • handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 good handfuls of rocket and/or mizuna
  • 4-6 freshly picked spray-free nasturtium flowers, petals picked off and stems discarded
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt

Finely slice the fennel bulb (reserving a little of the top fronds to add too) and radishes on a mandolin or slice it as thinly as you can with a sharp knife. Place into a large bowl with the capers, finely chopped fennel fronds, chopped flat leaf parsley, rocket/mizuna and nasturtium petals.

To make the dressing mix the mustard and honey in a small bowl until smooth. Add the vinegar and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, whisking to emulsify. Season well with sea salt.

To serve pour over enough dressing to lightly coat the salad and serve immediately. Any left over dressing can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.

This recipe is linked to Slightly indulgent Tuesday over at Simply sugar & gluten-free.

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  • Reply
    Angry Asian
    September 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    i'm a late fan of fennel. i don't like the licorice after taste and i feared fennel would reek of it, but it's so subtle and delightful. i've never had nasturtium before, but tried purslane and sorrel for the first time this summer, and i'm newly in love with salads.

  • Reply
    September 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    What a gorgeous salad! I adore fennel, and a few years ago went on quite a fennel kick until my family declared mutiny…they don't share the fennel love as much as I do. But it's been awhile since we've had fennel and I think they'd love your salad. Happy to hear your children enjoy fennel!

  • Reply
    Heather Jacobsen
    September 7, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    What a beautiful salad! I'm very jealous of your garden. We have had a terrible drought this year, and my garden is brown and dried up. 🙁 i remember nasturtiums in my herb garden last year, but that was so long ago… enjoy your nasturtiums for me! 🙂

  • Reply
    September 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    This looks so delicious!
    I'm really jealous – I don't think I have ever eaten fennel (like this). I've not even seen it at the supermarket or veggie marts.
    And I'm jealous of the fast growing time you have in Perth – longing for summer here.
    I'm sorry to hear about Si. I hope his ankle heals well and that he is able to get around as before, once the cast comes off. XXXOOO

  • Reply
    Zo @ Two Spoons
    September 7, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Ahhh all I want for lunch now is this salad, and I will be faced with cafe food choices at Uni instead.

    Love flower petals in my salad too, especially before tomatoes are properly in season for a bit of colour!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Spring on a plate….looks absolutely beautiful & makes me want to eat salad…always a good thing with Summer fast approaching! Nasturtiums all over the place in my garden & they make a salad look so pretty 🙂

  • Reply
    September 8, 2011 at 2:52 am

    oh this is the salad for me :-), I'll give you the +1!

    I have my blog candy on if you like to win the book (btw, the index has all the wheat free, and the dairy free, recipes listed).


  • Reply
    September 9, 2011 at 8:23 am

    A beautiful salad, I love that you have nasturtium as one of the ingredients 🙂 I've always been looked at funny when I want to eat the leaves or flowers!

  • Reply
    September 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Angry Asian~ I'm yet to try purslane, but LOVE sorrel!

    Hannah~ Hope you try this… and fingers crossed your kids now love fennel as much as you do.

    Heather~ Will do! I am loving how lush our garden is right now… but fear it won't be quite so healthy after a few months in Perth's extreme summer heat. We'll see.

    Janet @ninehundredandseventytwelverecipes
    Oh you must try and track some down, it's not as readily available back home in NZ that's for sure and is mostly over-priced. I used to see it in vege stores in Hamilton, but for $5 each bulb there was no way I was buying it! Farmers markets are probably your best bet. I know the Hamilton farmers markets always have them if you are anywhere near there? Thanks for your well wishes 🙂

    Zo, Mairi & Alessandra~ Thanks! I love that spring on a plate Mairi!

    elengenesseajm~ Haha me too 😉

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef
    September 11, 2011 at 8:09 am

    What a lovely combination of flavours! I grew so many nastursiums last year, and just bought 2 pkts of seeds today. Celia of Figjamandlimecordial has a great recipe for making nastursium capers from the seed pods which are great too.
    Glad the ankle is on the mend, and that it heals quickly.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks 🙂 I've been researching recipes for the pickled nasturtium buds… may have to be my next project!

  • Reply
    the good soup
    September 15, 2011 at 3:46 am

    Yes! I've been wanting to make the pickled nasturtium buds too. Will look up this recipe and try myself.

  • Reply
    September 26, 2011 at 4:07 am

    That seems delicious! I love fennel but it is SO expensive here. 🙁 I have some seeds though, I will try those. 🙂

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