This may seem a little unorthodox for a Christmas side dish. Where’s the bacon? Where are the sprouts or root vegetables? Where’s the hefty dose of butter and carbohydrates? Where’s the large proportion of starch designed to soak up all that festive gravy?
That, however, is exactly the point. The Christmas table is already groaning under weight of all those rich, hearty classics. In my day-to-day cooking, if I’m going to serve something rich and substantial, I always like to serve it with a fresh, crunchy, zesty salad. The contrast is glorious, and it makes me feel a lot healthier. So, I thought, why shouldn’t the same rule apply to the Christmas dinner?
This dish is exactly what you need to offset all that heavy festive fare. It’s fresh, light, crunchy, lemony, tangy and toasty, a beautiful understated tangle of wafer-thin fennel, crunchy green beans, glassy pears and fresh mint, bound with a light dressing of wholegrain mustard and lemon juice and garnished with toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds, which add a lovely festive touch.
It’s excellent paired with meat, cheese, or anything rich and creamy. You could also use apple slices instead of the pear, and hazelnuts or walnuts instead of almonds.
here's what you'll need...
- 1 large or 2 medium fennel bulbs
- 2 large, slightly under-ripe pears (Conference are best)
- A small bunch of fresh mint
- 150g green beans
- 2 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp flaked almonds
- Half a pomegranate