Saturday, June 25, 2011

Shaved Fennel Salad

Shaved Fennel Salad, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
The Little Kitchen seems to be growing quite fond of shaving unsuspecting vegetables...or recipes with the word "shaved" in them. Since the asparagus, I'm really liking how much I love a vegetable consumed in delicate ribbons bathed in a little marinade of dressing.
Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks posted this intriguing salad other day. The photo was stunning as usual and then reading into the post, it was about recipes without photos not getting any love. true. I'm still guilty of it. Sure enough all of the recipes I'd tagged in Super Natural Everyday (a book-btw- I not only paid full retail for once- but twice  ) this recipe was not one of them.
The salad starts with mandolined slivers of fennel and zucchini coins tossed with fresh dill and marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and salt then dumped on a bed of arugula and topped with toasted pine nuts and feta.
This salad was such a delight, and having discovered these new textures and tastes, I'm inspired to go back and read the book with more attention and imagination and determination.
This is also a stark reminder of why I started doing all this cooking and subsequently writing about it to begin with. It seems as good a time as any to recapture the roots of this blog and it's sense of adventure and purpose: expansion of my food view. Thusly, notes on this dish would have to include a growing fondness for fennel. This was only the second time I've ever tried fennel. I grilled it once inspired by an episode of Everyday Italian and an indoor grill at my disposal whilst house sitting. I did ponder its purchase though-I was perplexed by what to do with it and its odd and somewhat disturbing shape. It looks like a ventriculated heart and it's pricey...around $3-5 a pound. The grilled fennel was ok. I've never been a fan of anise and the flavor of licorice. It didn't suck but I wasn't all that into it either yet, in this salad, the thin slivers are really perfect. The anise flavor is balanced by the lemony marinade. I made this salad twice this week and used some of the marinated vegetables on a pizza bread with goat cheese that was pretty damn good.
Arugula is also new to the Little Kitchen. I like it's peppery flavor and it's pretty too. The only problem is it's hard to find in my local markets.
Zucchini is the veg that I really took the biggest journey with. It conjures up disturbing childhood memories and I'm really making the effort. There is a little irony in this part of the story. Back in the day  (60's -70's San Francisco) my mother, an otherwise good cook used to plop down plates with tepid, soggy canned vegetables all the time. She grew two fresh vegetables in a backyard corner our rented flat, tomatoes and zucchini. She liked to let the zucchini grow. And grow. And grow. It was like she was planning to enter it in the county fair. I can still see myself grimacing at of those pale green soggy triangles of zucchini sitting on my plate. We've come so far.

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