Smoked trout’s delicate flavour and soft texture combines beautifully with crisp fennel and apple in this winter salad. We like it with rye bread as a main course but it works equally well as a starter and it’s elegant enough to serve to guests.
Red apples, beetroot and red chicory combat any beige in the colour scheme and a hit of horseradish in the dressing wakes up the palate. Chop and change according to your preferences and what you have available – swap the walnuts for hazelnuts and the apples for pears. Or skip the fruit altogether and add some halved hard-boiled eggs, which also works as a vegetarian substitute for the trout.
You can make the dressing in advance (you may have more than you need for this – it’s great in other salads) but please don’t slice the fennel and apples until the last minute otherwise they’ll turn brown. A mandoline slicer comes in handy for the fennel.
Smoked Trout with Fennel and Apple
2 fillets of smoked trout, approx 160g (I used Pinney’s of Orford)
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed
2 red skinned apples
1 red chicory/endive
1 small to medium cooked beetroot
50g toasted walnuts
Fennel fronds, to garnish
Wedges of lemon, to serve
3 x 15ml tbsp Aspall’s honey cyder vinegar (or regular cider vinegar + runny honey, to taste)
1 tbsp hot horseradish sauce
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine the dressing ingredients in a lidded jar and shake well. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary and set aside. Toast the walnuts on a medium heat in a dry pan, stirring so they don’t burn.
If you don’t mind the extra washing up, have a series of small bowls to hand, because I prefer to dress each salad component separately then assemble in the serving bowl. This applies particularly to beetroot, which has a tendency to leak its colour into everything. A swift coating of dressing also helps to stop the apple and fennel from browning.
Break the chicory into bite-sized pieces or individual leaves and cut the cooked beetroot into small chunks. Core and slice the apples fairly thickly but don’t peel. Slice the fennel horizontally as thinly as possible – a mandoline is your friend here but if you don’t have one use a sharp knife.
Once you’ve dressed everything, arrange in your serving bowl and scatter in the toasted walnuts. Slice the trout fillets and carefully tuck into the salad so the fish doesn’t break up. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve straight away with lemon wedges to squeeze over.