Peas, fennel, mint, parmesan and lemon salad


Spring should have sprung by now. Seriously. This is getting silly. Wind is lashing the window like a strident horseman and the sky is downright grey.

Welcome back to London, Tori.

This is the kind of dish I make when there are clouds lazily bobbing across a blue sky and it’s warm enough to sport a sleeveless top and peg your jeans around your calves. It’s another of the low carb, quick, pull together salads which also looks quite smart. Here are some other winning features; it takes just as much time to make as it does to soft boil an egg (five minutes). It’s delicious with a gently puddling yolk strewn over the top. It’s  also grand without the egg as a side for barbecued chicken, prawns, and both pink and white fish.

What you’ve got is a restrained balance of flavours; the mild aniseed of the fennel, sweetness of peas (frozen are fine- we’ve all got better things to do than pod peas), richness of parmesan and then a breath of fresh air from mint and lemon.

It also gives me an excuse to pull out the mandolin, my latest indulgence of kitchen tech for a very small London kitchen. The beauty of a mandolin isn’t just about playing Russian roulette with your finger tips (CAREFUL)- it’s how easily creates anorexic thin waftings of vegetables for salads. When it comes to fennel, this is a good thing. I know not everyone is as much of a fan of the white bulb as I am. (The Hungry One loves to tell a story about how a few years ago when I was a little stressed and strung out he came downstairs  to find me sitting in the glow of the open fridge door, gnawing on a fennel bulb like an apple.) That’s obviously not for everyone. By shaving it this thinly fennel becomes more about texture and freshness rather than a grating aniseed twang.

If you haven’t got a mandolin, I recommend using a vegetable peeler or the shaving attachment on your food processor to try and get the right sort of thickness.

This is the lightest yet of the ‘evangelical about pulses’ series I’ve been doing to break away from the crutches of white carbs for dinner. As for whether a pea really counts as a pulse, well, that’s a debate for another day.

What I do know is that this is bright, light and friendly food. It reminds me a lot of the shaved fennel, broad bean and pear salad that’s served at the sublime Sean’s Panaroma, overlooking Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

But best of all, this is a salad that gets along very well with a glass of dry pink wine. Now I’ve got the salad. I’ve got tortoiseshell glasses plucked out of my bag, ready to perch on my head. I’ve got the wine in the fridge. Just get me some sunshine.


Pea, fennel, mint, lemon and parmesan salad

Serves 1 (though easily doubles and triples, quadruples etc)


1 egg – optional (an older egg is better than a fresh one)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 pinch bi carb soda
1/2 fennel, finely shaved on a mandolin, wafty dill like fennel tops reserved
20 grams of shaved parmesan
1 handful of fresh mint, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lemon
salt and pepper to taset
1 mandolin (not essential, but a big help). 1 saucepan. 1 strainer.1 vegetable peeler/parmesan shaver.
Here’s how we roll
1. Trim the bottom off the fennel. Put the mandolin on the slimmest setting you can get and carefully shave half of it onto a plate.
2. Fill the pot with cold water and add a pinch of bicarb (the bicarb will help the shell of the egg shrink away from the white when you peel it). Bring the water to a rolling boil, then gently add the egg. Boil for five minutes.
3. While the egg is boiling place the peas in a steamer/strainer over the top of the boiling water and use the steam to defrost and warm them.
4. After five minutes run the egg under cold water until it is cool enough to handle. Gently crack the bottom of the egg against the bench top and peel the shell off, taking care not to puncture the white (the yolk should still be runny inside).
5. Combine the fennel shavings, fennel tops and peas with the zest of half a lemon, the chopped mint and parmesan shavings. Season with a pinch of sea salt flakes and pepper.  Make a dressing by combining the two tablespoons of olive oil with the juice the lemon (you can cut off half a cheek and put it on the side of the plate to spike it up more if you like).
6. If you’re serving vegans or pregnant women who aren’t happy eating runny egg yolks, you can just leave it as is and serve.
7. Otherwise, serve with the egg over the top for people to cleave into and let the yolk run through the salad.

Other pulse high, carb low dinner options

Chickpeas, broccolini, garlic, chilli and lemon





  1. Beautiful salad. I love shaved fennel just with a gorgeous glug of olive oil, but this makes it even more exciting. The perfect accompaniment to simple grilled white fish.

  2. I love any recipe with peas! I love their sweet bursting freshness. And by the way, lovely new look and great pic of you! 😀

  3. This looks lovely and fresh salad – the flavour combination sounds delightful. Admittedly I’ve never made a salad with fennel but this has me inspired!

  4. I love fennel (both raw and roasted) and my mandolin. And pretty much every other ingredient in this salad. I’m making this.

Leave a comment


{ 4 Trackbacks }