2000s Recipes + Menus

Crab and Fennel Salad

Serves2 (first course)
  • Active Time:25 min
  • Start to Finish:25 min
February 2007
The crunch and hint of licorice from a fennel bulb and fennel seeds have the magical effect of making crab taste more intensely like itself in this simple, coyly romantic salad.
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb (sometimes labeled “anise”; 6 to 8 oz), stalks cut off and discarded
  • 1/4 lb jumbo lump crabmeat (about 1/2 cup), picked over
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 cup baby lettuces (preferably red, such as amaranth, lolla rossa, and red basil) or mâche (lamb's lettuce)
  • Special equipment:

    an electric coffee/spice grinder; an adjustable-blade slicer; 2 (3-inch) metal entremet (pastry) rings at least 2 inches high or 2 clean empty cans with top and bottom removed
  • Finely grind fennel seeds in grinder, then whisk together with salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined.
  • Shave fennel bulb with slicer crosswise into paper-thin slices until you have enough to measure 1 packed cup. (Halve bulb lengthwise if too large for slicer.) Toss with 2 teaspoons vinaigrette in another small bowl.
  • Toss crabmeat with chives and 1 tablespoon vinaigrette in a third small bowl.
  • Put each metal ring in center of a salad plate. Divide crab mixture between them, pressing down on it lightly with your fingertips.
  • Toss lettuces with fennel mixture and divide between rings, pressing slightly without flattening tops.
  • Drizzle remaining vinaigrette and remaining tablespoon oil around plates. Remove rings before serving.
Cooks' note: Fennel can be tossed with vinaigrette 2 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Pour off any excess liquid just before tossing with lettuces. Crab mixture can be made 2 hours ahead and chilled, covered.
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