Recipe: Make our beetroot, fennel and red wine salad with mackerel

Charlotte's beetroot, fennel and red wine salad with mackerel

Charlotte's beetroot, fennel and red wine salad with mackerel - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

We are in prime salad season. There’s more lettuce and spinach in my garden than I can handle...and I suspect a glut of tomatoes and courgettes are on the way too. 

But does a salad always have to include green leaves? The resounding answer is no. Variety is, after all, the spice of life. Who wants to eat rabbit food every day? Not me! 

Salads shouldn’t be sad, limp affairs to be nudged to the side of the plate. You want them packed with colour and texture – a variety of ingredients. Each bite should entice you to dive back in. 

They can be warm, hot, cold...a mixture of all three if you like.  

Today’s recipe is one of my favourites, inspired by a lunch I had pre-lockdown at a gastropub. Their dish combined roasted beets, slivers of multi-coloured pickled heritage beets, slow-cooked fennel, smoked trout, and a lively red wine dressing – something that’s a bit unusual but really really works. 

It’s crunchy, sweet, laced with a hint of aniseed from the fennel, and punched with smoke from the fish. 

Veggies can swap out the mackerel for griddled halloumi. Toss in a handful of toasted seeds and crumbs of strong blue cheese and it’s a winner too. In fact, the salad, cooled down, is a brilliant accompaniment to any cheese-based dish, or even a cheeseboard. 

Give it a try. 

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Beetroot, red wine and fennel salad with mackerel 

(Serves 2) 

400g peeled cooked beetroot, cut into 2cm cubes (not pickled) 

½ fennel bulb, cut into 1cm cubes, reserve the fronds 

For the dressing 

Small knob butter 

Splash olive oil 

1 clove garlic, sliced 

1 sprig of fresh thyme 

2tbsps balsamic vinegar 

200ml fruity red wine 

1tbsp honey 


To serve: Smoked mackerel 


Gently warm the butter and oil in a small pan. Add the garlic and thyme and turn the heat up slightly. Cook until the garlic just starts to colour. 

Add the vinegar and wine and turn up the heat. Reduce by half. Turn off the heat and stir in the honey. Season to taste. 

Place the chopped beetroot and fennel in a bowl and add the dressing. Toss. 

Warm through the mackerel if you like, and serve over the top of the salad with some of the fennel fronds.