While we all keep on saying taste preferences change with age, I think that, most of all, they broaden. The funny thing is that sometimes a slight difference in seasoning or cooking method makes one fall in love with previously despised food products. Such was the case with my dislike of fennel, tasted only in its cooked – or rather overcooked – form. Now I know that raw fennel is a delicious, crisp, delicately flavoured vegetable and has nothing in common with the mushy, greyish thing I had known for years. This salad showcases perfectly the obvious qualities of this fabulous bulb when kept far away from the stove.
As a new convert I am obviously excited about the fennel’s presence here but actually it’s the wonderful creamy sauce which merits a particular attention. Its recipe comes from Smashing Plates: Greek Flavours Redefined by Maria Elia I have already raved about here. As a quick reminder, it’s a beautiful, highly inspiring book full of recipes with Cypriot and Greek roots and most of all a source of fabulous meal ideas. I have already shared with you my modified version of Maria Elia’s Ouzo, Celeriac and Fennel Remoulade (Fennel and Celeriac Salad with Ouzo Mayonnaise) and maybe this is the reason why, seeing the very tempting sauce recipe, I decided to use it as a dressing for fennel. The author advises to serve this sauce with grilled meats, fish or blanched/roasted vegetables, but it was fantastic with raw fennel two. I can already imagine how pleasant this cooling dressing and crunchy fennel will be on hot summer days.
Toasted sesame seeds are my own initiative. They add an additional texture, but are not necessary. I have used lime juice instead of lemon juice because I had only limes.
TIP: The sauce can be made in advance (or in bigger amounts) and kept for several days in the fridge. It will certainly thicken (sesame paste has a tendency to thicken sauces), so just add some water to dilute it before serving (or more yogurt).
Preparation: 15 minutes
Ingredients (serves two as the only side-dish):
1 big fennel bulb, sliced
125 ml () natural unsweetened yogurt (you can use Greek yogurt of course)
4 heaped tablespoons light sesame paste (also called tahini)
juice from 1/2 lemon or 1/2 lime
1/4 flat teaspoon of ground cumin
(toasted sesame seeds)
Combine all the sauce ingredients (apart from sesame seeds) in a big bowl.
Season with salt.
Throw the fennel slices into the bowl and delicately stir, making sure it’s all laced with the sauce.
Put into a serving bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you wish.