Sicilian orange and fennel salad
my trip to Sicily, but it's hard to know where to start. I´m still taking it all in, and somehow homesick. It sounds silly, since it´s not my home, but we were make so welcome by Fabrizia that it felt like it.
I thought I would mention a few dishes, and maybe round it off with one of the recipes, but I couldn´t choose. We went through such a whole lot of stuff, from deceptively simple fried vinegary sardines to the baroque multilayered fantasy of cassata to potatoes in saffron that were just like the papas en amarillo I know from home. Every kind of food, in every note accross the scale. What would I write?
Then it occurred to me that a common theme in all those meals was the salad. There was always a salad of some sort, served on a moon shaped plate. We never had the same salad twice, I'm pretty sure, but the point of them was always the same: to provide a crunchy, fresh, almost discreet relief from the fireworks in the main, round, plates. Like the clowns in the circus, coming between the high wire acts.
Of course these salads were all made from whatever there was in the kitchen garden. Right now, in early spring, that means fennel, frisée, wild radish greens, perhaps, and citrus: oranges, or some special salad lemons, or both.
Now, I live in Aberdeen, which puts me very, very far from that horticultural idyll. When I say "whatever I can find" I don't mean whatever there is in the garden, but whatever they have in the supermarket. And let me tell you, that can often mean, "not much".
So when I made myself a salad of just oranges and fennel, with some some parsley leaves added for colour, I though, this is never going to cut it . But you know what? It was beautiful. Fresh, and sweet, and crunchy and yes, it took me straight away to Sicily. So if you'll forgive me resorting to the clichéd quote, it was a case of changing things so they would stay the same, and it worked.
I will be blogging more about our trip to the Anna Tasca Lanza cooking school, but also be sure to check out what Béa, Nicky and Oliver, Melissa, Keiko and Chika post. Prepare to swoon at the pictures, and to develop strong cravings for ricotta in all its forms.
Nostalgic Sicilian salad, for one
Half a fennel bulb
A few parsley leaves
Olive oil, salt, pepper
Shave or slice the fennel as thin as you can. Cut the orange over it, so not a drop of juice is lost. The shape doesn't really matter (to me, anyway , since I have the advantageof drawing my food). Leave the parsley leaves whole.
Now sprinkle with salt, drizzle with oil, crack a bit of black pepper and that's it.