I’m seldom really hungry during the summer, especially when it’s as hot as it’s been here for the past week or so. A heavy meal is the last thing I want, so I’m going for a nice crunchy summer salad today. Here’s one of my favorite salads, serve it with grilled fish and you have an amazing meal. All the fresh flavors combine so well and the different textures make it a really interesting salad to eat.
1/2 fennel bulb
1/2 small red onion
3 tbsp olive oil
Lemon juice ( to taste)
Salt & pepper
Optional: extra pair of hands
I used rocket (salad leaves), roughly a good handful per person. Now rocket isn’t for everyone -it has a very nutty flavor that I’ve grown to like very much- but feel free to use your lettuce of choice. Romaine also works great.
Fennel, there’s not much I don’t love about it. So fragrant, so versatile. It works beautifully when eaten raw in a salad, but is also tasty in soups and stir fries. I just really like how the anise flavor comes out when you eat it raw.
I used half the bulb, take the core out and slice thinly using a very sharp knife. Whatever you do, don’t throw away the leaves!
On to the orange! I’m sure there are faster and more professional ways of doing this, but I just cut away the skin and end up with a square orange :)
Thinly slice the orange, and cut them up in bit sized pieces.
I love avocado. Aside from the pretty green color, the slightly nutty flavor, it’s also one of the most healthy things to eat. It’s an entire meal in and of itself where it comes to nutrients. Cut the avocado in half from top to bottom (or from the stem back to the stem), but never through the middle. It’s harder to remove the pit then.
Tip: if you only have to use half the avocado, save the half that still has the pit in it. Do not remove the pit! Drizzle some lemon juice over it, tightly wrap it in foil and store in the fridge.
Use a spoon to scoop the avocado out and cut it in slices. This is where the extra pair of hands come in handy when you’re the one holding the camera! Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the slices to prevent them from discoloring.
I used a very small red onion, and only used 1/2 of that. Slice as thinly as you possibly can, the onion should be an accent, not the main ingredient. No salad benefits from big chunks of raw onion.
Now for the dressing. Pour roughly 3 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl.
I know the French have hard and fast rules where it comes to a classic vinaigrette -typically three parts oil and one part acid- but hey, I’m Dutch, so who cares! I just squeeze lemon juice and taste until I’m happy with how it tastes!
Add garlic to taste. I (or better said my extra pair of hands) stopped at 1/3 of a clove. I want flavors to blend in and nothing to really stand out. Raw garlic can be overpowering and its flavor becomes even stronger overtime. Think about that when you make the dressing ahead of time!
Now I’m decadent in some areas, though! I don’t use plain salt for dishes like these, no, I raise you a Fleur de sel! Literally translated it means ‘Flower of salt’, and that’s so right on target. How it livens up everything it touches reminds me of the cheerfulness and delicacy of pretty flowers.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Here’s why I told you not to toss the fennel leaves! Chop them up and add them to the dressing.
Whisk until you have a slightly thicker and creamy looking consistency that looks like this.
Now for the fun part, at least this is the part I like best. It also gives me the chance to eat all those things that don’t fit into the salad anymore, and then I bitch about becoming too heavy. What can I say? I’m cursed, it’s a girl thing. Start layering the ingredients and finish with a small handful of pine nuts. You can toast them first but I prefer them like this, toasted does look better, though. Drizzle some dressing over the salad (or serve on the side in a fancy bowl).
You end up with a tasty, crispy and fresh summer salad.