We’ve been picking small handfuls of purple sprouting broccoli for a few weeks now.  Most of the plants have been badly eaten by snails, but a few have survived and one plant in particular seems to resist all comers and keep on sprouting.  What a trooper!  Occasionally we miss the sprouts and they throw out long stalks of lovely white flowers.  I guess we’re winners either way.

So how best to enjoy this harvest?  I favour serving them as a side vegetable just lightly steamed with plenty of crunch left in.  And a couple of days ago we had a gorgeous, warm evening, so I decided to make a salad plate with boiled new potatoes, the broccoli and a couple of other dishes.  The first was a quinoa salad with grated carrot, pecan nuts and fresh herbs, while the second was this wonderful fennel salsa from Denis Cotter’s lovely book ‘Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me’.

The best thing about this recipe is that the flavour of the fennel really comes through, as I often find that the delicate aniseed taste of fennel is often lost in other dishes.  The salsa is crunchy and summery with fantastic layers of flavour.  I loved it!

Fennel Salsa
by Denis Cotter

1 fennel bulb
2 tbsp olive oil
4 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
salt

Quarter the fennel bulb and cut out the core, then remove the stalk and any tough or wrinkled parts.  Chop the rest into small dice.  Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan, add the fennel and cook over a low heat for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, garlic and spring onions, and cook for 1 minute more.  Off the heat, add the lemon zest and juice and a little salt and leave to stand for a few minutes.  Use the salsa warm or at room temperature.

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