It is hot out there. Ok, I'm a wimp. But its hot by Seattle standards. I wanted something healthy, light, and cooling for lunch today. I had a work party later in the afternoon, and wanted to save some calories for noshing there.
I didn't feel up to my usual greens, so I decided to try something fun and different. I have a feeling we'll be eating much more of this. My inspiration was from Elise's post on Simply Recipes. Of course, I'm sure it would have been fabulous exactly the way Elise made it, but I have this disease -- I just cannot use a recipe without tweaking it. I know this is a very common disease amongst foodies :-) And not to mention, I love the color and crunch of baby radishes. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Shaved Fennel and Radish Salad
Serves 1 for lunch; 2 as side
1 fennel bulb
5 baby red radishes
4 leaves of anise hyssop (aka licorice mint)
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of sea salt
few turns of fresh pepper
block of parmagiano reggiano cheese
This salad looks gorgeous and what is even better is that it comes together in a snap. Its is refined enough for a ladies luncheon, yet is simple enough to take along to a summer family picnic. Of course the catch is that unless you have extraordinary CIA (the culinary one) quality knife skills, it is a real snap only if you have a mandoline. There are some great ones out there, but I have a cheap plastic one that I purchased a few years back from the Restaurant Supply Store. It works great, and is small, so it fits in my kitchen drawer. If you don't have a mandoline, I would add one to your Christmas wish list right away. If you are confused as to which one to buy, FYI Cooks Illustrated recommends this one and this one. You're welcome :-) Actually, come to think of it, I need a new one myself. Mine does not allow any adjustment for thickness, which is not so cool! If I did, I would have shaved the fennel a bit thinner. Who says you don't need more gadgets??
If you want to learn more about anise hyssop, click on the link I have above. Thanks to the wonderful folks at my new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), I am discovering some really cool herbs this year. The kids and I were over there a few days back and plucked some Anise Hyssop leaves. They are delicious. Its is called 'Licorice mint' aptly, since the leaves taste a bit like licorice, mint, and chocolate? The boys munched on some and yelled aloud "Mom, come smell our breath. Its minty!". I figured the flavor profile fits in perfectly with the salad, so why not? It was good. You can add any herb you want, but I think thyme, basil, or chives would work quite well.
As goes olive oil, use the best you can find. In a simple salad like this, the ingredients really shine, so a good olive oil would be well worth it. Save the cheaper stuff for cooking with.
To assemble the salad, slice the fennel bulb and the radishes on the mandoline. Make a chiffonade with the anise hyssop leaves. Shave the parmagiano into long strips (I find that a vegetable peeler works great for this). Toss all the salad ingredients together very gently. Dress with a bit more olive oil. That is it. Serious.
Serve as is or with some crusty bread on the side. Hmmmmm a glass of Prosecco would just make it fantabulous!! Enjoy!