Seafood and Fennel Salad

This is the first year I grew fennel and I grew it in limited quantities. Whenever I grow something in small amounts, I'm very particular about how I use it. Typically, I like fennel when it's roasted. I find that it takes some of the potency out of the anise flavor that fennel has. However, I decided to try this raw fennel salad with seafood and I was amazed at how delicious it was. If you find the anise flavor of fennel too strong sometimes like I do, I recommend slicing your fennel VERY thin. This made it perfect for me in this recipe. I was able to use fresh dill and parsley from the garden, along with my fennel for this recipe.


1/2 red onion, finely chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 poblanor or other mild chile, seeded and finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3/4 pounds cleaned squid, including both tubes and tenticles
1 tablespoon sumac
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Kosher salt to taste


  1. Trim the fennel fronds and the base of the fennel bulbs. Slice the bulb crosswise as thinly as possible (the thinner the better).

  2. In a large bowl, mix the fennel and red onion with the lime zest and juice, garlic, dill, parsley, chile, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

  3. Mix the shrimp and squid with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Grill them in small batches, turning them over after 2-3 minutes and continuing until done. Transfer to a cutting board and slice the squid into rings. Cut the shrimp in half or thirds.

  4. Add the seafood to the salad bowl and toss together. Add the sumac and cilantro and serve. Add additional salt as needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

This recipe is slightly modified from the recipe in the cookbook, Ottolenghi.

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine