The sun was shining on the weekend and I had some beautiful fennel. With blue skies and sunshine rather than roasting and braising I was in the mood for a salad. I love the crunch and the fresh aniseed flavour from fennel and I am happy to throw it in to any salad bowl.
I turned to Super Natural Everyday from Heidi Swanson for a little, healthy, yet delicious inspiration and I came across this nifty little salad. As with most of the recipes it is fresh and full of flavour. I am loving this book at the moment for healthy and delicious vegetarian inspiration. It is good at steering me away, just every now and then, from big bowls of pasta or stews and casseroles atop piles of mash.
A little steering is most definitely required this week to offset amazing Cuisine Master Classes, pre NZ Film Fest vinos and nibbles as I try and fit in as many movies as possible over the next few weeks*, and then to top it all off I am cooking dinner with some girlfriends on the weekend. I say cooking together as more of a show and tell as we will be cooking together so that I can show them how easy it is ti rustle up a wee bit of a dinner party, but more on that next week. So I am being terribly spoilt food wise this week and need some healthier far in amongst all the over indulgence.
*So far...Page One Inside the New York Times:fantastic ***** Tree of Life:oh dear! But this is a much more succinct review than I could ever put together! Circumstance: very good ****
I digress, so back to the this salad. It just looked so appealing, ribbons and rounds of pale green flecked with dill all mounded on a platter, and sounded fresh and light with a simple lemon vinaigrette. Quite possibly my new favourite salad.
Shaved Fennel Salad, from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson
You could use a mandolin or food processor, however I went with a knife and due to my lack of knife skills, and a desire for no severed fingers, the zucchini and fennel weren't quite paper thin. Paper thin would be prettier but you still get all the flavour with not so paper thin.
Sadly there was no dill to be found so I used the fennel fronds. If you can find dill it would definitely add another layer of flavour.
1 medium-large zucchini or 2 small zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin
15g, 1/2 oz, 2/3 cup dill, chopped
1/3 cup / 80ml fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
1/3 cup / 80ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
fine grain sea salt
4 or 5 generous handfuls rocket (arugula)
Honey, if needed
60g, 20z, 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
60g, 20z, 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
In a large bowl mix together the zucchini, fennel and dill. Toss everything together with the lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside and leave to marinate for 20 minutes to 1 hour.
To serve pile the rocket on to a platter and mound the zucchini and fennel on top. Drizzle with most of the dressing and season to taste with more lemon juice, olive oil or salt as you like. A great tip from Heidi if the lemons are on the sour side is to add a little honey.
To finish scatter over the pine nuts and feta and serve immediately.
This was my lunch on Saturday and I loved it. The fresh crunch of the fennel, the zucchini with a lemony tang from the dressing and peppery rocket would be quite wonderful on their own. But there's more...the soft salty feta and then a slightly sweet toasty note from the pine nuts bring everything together. I did a half portion and I pretty much scoffed the lot. Such simple ingredients but when all tossed together most definitely greater than the sum of their parts.