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Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Some time during the month of June, I lost track of time. As I sat down to write this recipe, I had thought June had just begun but now it looks like we're on the last lap of the month. How did that happen? Well, at least, we finally have our weather. This morning, I went to look at my tomatoes & tomatillos and it's like they have grown overnight. Nice thick stems, beautiful verdant leaves and elegant little flower buds. (I especially love the smell spritzed into the air as I squeeze the suckers off my tomato plants. It is intoxicating like catnip for gardeners.) While the forecast for this summer is hot, I still cross my fingers for good weather and hopefully it will yield a bounty of highly rewarding, home-grown heirloom vegetables for summer eating.
Which brings me to this week's recipe... Outside of maybe barbeque, there is nothing that symbolizes summer eating more than a refreshing cool, crunchy salad. In our household, this week's salad is our current favourite. (Who can say no to smoked salmon?) It pairs feathery-thin fresh fennel with rich, smooth unctuous smoked salmon. It's a beautiful salad that can be piled high in a large bowl and gobbled up or it may be served elegantly on a long platter for dinner guests. Either way, it is delicious and does not require much effort.*
*Perhaps after you read this recipe, you will disagree, but I will disclose upfront that this recipe calls for shaved fennel. Therefore, it requires the use of some sort of kitchen gadget, I know. Although, shaving fennel may seem daunting and hardly worth it, believe me, it is worth it (and probably not as bad as you think once you get into it.) The papery slices of fennel stay crisp and crunchy but allows the vinaigrette to permeate creating a kind of "quick" pickle. It's an anise and citrus flavour explosion. Perfect for a hot day. Perfect paired with smoked salmon. Trust me. Worth the effort.
Shaved Fennel Salad With Smoked Salmon
Serves 4 as a starter (or 2 as a light lunch)
1/2 large fennel bulb (reserve some fennel fronds)
150 grams smoked salmon, sliced
1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper
1. In a large bowl, shave fennel into wispy thin slices. I use a benriner (or mandolin) but if you don't have one, slice fennel into thin pieces with a sharp knife.
2. On a large plate, lay out smoked salmon in a single layer.
3. In a medium sized jar, add Dijon, olive oil & lemon juice. Place lid on tightly and shake. Pour over fennel and toss. Add salt & pepper. Taste. Adjust seasonings as necessary then allow to fennel to marinate for at least ten minutes.
4. To serve, pile fennel high over smoked salmon. Sprinkle some of the reserved fennel fronds on top.