Life evolves. Slowly. Incrementally. We didn’t just emerge from the microbial swamp, fully formed and bipedal, with highly developed cortices and opposable thumbs. Nope, it was a gradual flinging together of complimentary and useful attributes. Like this salad. Ha ha! See the barely-there-half-baked-connection?
Anyway just like single-celled life transformed into multicellular critters that build planes and trains and hurl Molotov cocktails at each other, this salad started out as nothing special - just a fennel bulb and a can of chickpeas. Then I kept chucking stuff in and voila! It’s tangy, it’s salty, it’s sweet, it’s caramelised and crunchy and spicy and weird and good. Hope you like it!
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp castor sugar
pinch of salt
1 x 400g of chickpeas, drained
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1-2 avocados, cut into big chunks
2-4 dill pickles, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp sultanas
2 Tbsp finely grated pecorino cheese
a few sprigs of parsley, roughly chopped
a handful of mint, roughly chopped
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Put the fennel, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, castor sugar and a good pinch of salt in a non-stick frying pan. Fry on medium heat until the fennel starts to soften and caramelise (about 5-10 minutes).
Add the chickpeas and garlic cloves to the fennel and continue to fry. Fry until the chickpeas start to brown on the outside, and the fennel starts to go golden and a little caramelised. Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
In a big bowl, combine the fennel and chickpeas with the remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine.
Serve while still warm, with a final squeeze of lemon juice on top and a sprinkling of chilli flakes (optional).
Note: for a vegan version, simply omit the pecorino cheese and add a little extra sprinkle of salt before serving.