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pick a season

Recipe: fennel slaw

If only Colorado could pick a season and stick with it, I’d feel a little less discombobulated as to how to get my daily exercise. For most of the winter, it has toggled between true winter and pseudo spring. We’ll get a nice dump of snow and then Mother Nature cranks up the heat and everyone is wearing shorts for the next week or two. For some, this is merely an issue of donning a jacket versus donning sandals. And you might think that translates into skiing one day and hiking the next. But it doesn’t quite work that way. Yes, we ski the snow when it’s fresh. But if more snow doesn’t come along and our daytime high temperatures are flirting in the 60s, it doesn’t take long to render trails icy slicks, slushy messes, snirt (snow and dirt), or any miserable combination of the three. That’s hard to ski, but it’s also a pain to trail run. While I would like to have winter in winter, I’d be okay with “spring” in winter if it would just stay that way, you know? Okay, I’ll shut up about that… for now. We still know where to go to get our ski fixes.

backcountry ski with my little companion

skating the nordic center trails where the snow keeps well in shade

Jeremy and I spent the weekend working, staying away from the crowds on the slopes and the trails. When we weren’t working, we took Neva to the soccer field to chase tennis balls in the diminishing snow. We also started training Neva to return to the front door on her own after she does her business in the yard. She’s always on leash outside, because she will probably run off after a scent and because she doesn’t understand the dangers that cars can present (other than when she’s IN a car). Right now, Jeremy will take her out on leash and when she’s done doing her thing in the yard, he’ll unleash her and tell her to find me at the front door where I wait with a treat. She caught on quickly, so that’s progress.

i think she thinks these are for her

My appetite follows my cooking which follows the weather. This warmer weather of late has me craving more fruits, salads, and grilled things rather than my typical February fare of stews, soups, and wonderful foods that emerge from the oven. The nice thing about this fennel slaw we’ve been enjoying is that it feels summery while incorporating crunchy winter vegetables.

fennel, cabbage, red onion, lemon, carrot, red wine vinegar, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, anise seeds

I’ve never been a fan of black licorice, but I do enjoy anise and fennel. These were tastes that I acquired as an adult as I sampled and learned about them over the years. The first step to making the slaw is toasting the anise and fennel seeds. I just popped mine onto a skillet over medium heat and stirred them around until they became fragrant and golden. Let the seeds cool before giving them a quick zip in a spice grinder. Add the spices to the rest of the dressing ingredients and mix it all together. I started with the original recipe’s one-third cup of mayonnaise, and the dressing was just too runny and watery for my purposes, so I doubled it to two-thirds of a cup. This also helps to cut the sharpness of the vinegar. I think you can go anywhere from a half cup to a whole cup of mayonnaise depending on your preferences.

toast the spices

place the toasted seeds in a spice grinder

mix the dressing

The most time-consuming part of the recipe is slicing and grating the vegetables. It’s a good opportunity to practice your knife skills or put that old mandoline slicer to good use. Just don’t slice your finger, because that’s not an ingredient in this slaw. When trimming the fennel bulbs, be sure to reserve some of the fronds before discarding the stalks. They add some nice flavor as well as a splash of pretty green.

slice the fennel and reserve some fronds

grated carrot

shredded cabbage

I was supposed to toss the fennel slices and fronds with the lemon juice first, but it slipped my mind, so I added it to all of the vegetables instead. The world did not explode. Once you’ve sliced and chopped and shredded your way through the vegetables, toss everything with the dressing. Give it a rest for an hour to allow the flavors to blend and mellow.

adding lemon juice

pour the dressing over the vegetables


If you are a fan of vegetables, salads, and especially slaws, this is a nice variation on the traditional coleslaw. It not only sports beautiful splashes of color, but the fennel and the spices lend a slightly sweet and refreshing flavor to accompany the crunchy texture. I made a big batch and the crunchiness holds up over a few days with no problem. I can’t tell you what happens beyond a few days because we ate it up.

we had it with some grilled sausages

and it was awesome

Fennel Slaw
[print recipe]
from Epicurious

1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp anise seeds
1/2 – 1 cup mayonnaise, to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

2 medium fennel bulbs, about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs.
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 small cabbage, about 2 lbs.
1 large carrot, grated (1 cup)
1 small red onion, sliced thin (1 cup)

Make the dressing: Toast the fennel and anise seeds in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool. Grind the spices (in a grinder or use a mortar and pestle). Combine the ground spices with the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Make the salad: Remove and discard the stalks from the fennel bulbs, but reserve a quarter cup of the fronds from the stalks. Slice the bulbs in half lengthwise and remove the cores. Thinly slice the fennel and toss with the lemon juice in a large bowl. Finely chop the fronds and add them to the bowl. Cut the cabbage head in half lengthwise and remove the core. Slice thin and add the cabbage to the bowl along with the carrot, onion, and dressing. Toss to coat. Chill for an hour. Serves 10-12.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

ginger peanut asian slaw confetti kale salad asian chicken sandwich mayonnaiseless coleslaw

3 nibbles at “pick a season”

  1. Shari Q. says:

    This looks amazing!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. jenyu says:

    Shari – you’re welcome! xo

  3. Colleen says:

    I made this fennel slaw tonight with some chicken Apple sausage and it was awesome. I added an apple to the slaw and used apple cider vinegar (because i didn’t have any white wine vinegar). Thank you for the recipe. I will definitely make this again and again.

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