• Fennel Salad, Cottage Cheese & Spiced Nuts


New Nordic Cuisine

By Gunnar Gislason

This simple recipe combines the creaminess of cottage cheese and the freshness of raw fennel contrasted with a fennel puree and spicy crunch of toasted nuts. It’s a wonderful way to kick off a meal, or makes a nice vegetarian main course.

Fennel Salad, Cottage Cheese & Spiced Nuts


Cottage Cheese

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) large-curd cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat sour cream
  • Salt
  • Beer Vinegar (page 30), for seasoning

Fennel Puree

  • 2 fennel bulbs, cored and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2  teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt

Fennel Salad

  • 1 fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and cored
  • Salt
  • Rapeseed oil, for seasoning
  • Beer Vinegar (page 30), for seasoning

Spicy Nuts

  • 1  1/2 tablespoons hazelnuts
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons walnuts
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons peanuts
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2  teaspoon dill seeds
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 3/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Sea salt
  • Rapeseed oil, for seasoning

Beer Vinegar

  • 2  1/2 cups (600 ml) dark beer, such as a porter or a stout
  • Vinegar mother, if available


Serves 4 | preparation time: about 1 hour

To make the cottage cheese, combine the cottage cheese and sour cream and mix well. Season with salt and vinegar, cover and refrigerate until chilled.

To make the spicy nuts, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread all of the nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, until golden brown. While the nuts are still warm, put them in a kitchen towel and then rub them between your palms to remove the skins. Finely chop the nuts and let cool to room temperature.

Combine the clove, fennel seeds, dill seeds, and star anise in a small frying pan over medium-low heat and toast, shaking the pan often, for 5 to 6 minutes, until fragrant and nicely toasted. Remove from the heat, stir in the cinnamon, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Transfer the ground spices to a small food processor, add the nuts, and pulse until ground to a fine powder. Season with salt and a few drops of oil.

To make the fennel puree, combine the fennel, milk, cream, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fennel is tender. Drain, reserving the liquid and fennel separately. Transfer the fennel to a blender, add the butter, and process on high speed until a puree forms, adding the cooking liquid as needed to achieve a smooth consistency. Season with salt.

To make the fennel salad, thinly slice the fennel on a mandoline. Season with salt, oil, and vinegar.

To serve, spoon the cottage cheese onto plates along with the fennel puree and salad. Sprinkle with the spicy nuts.

Beer Vinegar

Pour the beer into a clean, sterilized glass jar. If you have a previous batch of vinegar and want to use the mother, decant the vinegar into a new container, being careful not to disturb the mother resting on the bottom of the jar. Add the mother to the fresh beer, top the jar with a piece of cheesecloth, and tie the cheesecloth securely to the jar rim with butcher’s twine.

Keep the vinegar in a cool, dry place for 3 to 4 weeks. Check the taste of your vinegar after 1 week to see how it is doing. It should just be beginning to get tart. Also, skim off any white film growing on the surface and replace the cheesecloth with a new piece. Once the vinegar is tart and tangy enough for your liking, seal the jar with a sterilized lid. It will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator and will soon produce a mother of its own.

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