Friday, February 23, 2007

A Winter Salad

As the winter slinks towards its conclusion for another year I find myself hankering for crisp raw foods, for the joy of salads. I really enjoy the winter's harvest - bright green bulbs of brussel sprouts do gladden my heart - but by now I want something that offers resistance when I bite. I want fast and simple and a whole other kind of melange. There was a sign once outside Total Organics shop in Marylebone listing the days lunch specials - the highlight for me was Melée of Vegetables. Still makes me laugh.
It is too early yet for lettuce and tomatoes - though available they have neither taste nor a desirable texture. Buying them now has the frisson of succumbing to temptation but the reward is disappointment in the eating and a chastening sense of foolishness for expecting any other outcome. Once bitten ...

The best way to sate my salad need is to use winter vegetables instead - big fat bottomed bulbs of fennel and long crisp pale sticks of celery chopped into generous pieces with jewelled colour and sweetness coming from a scattering of carrot. The flavours are big and well defined but they work in harmony and the sensation of a mouthful of crunchy bits exploding between your teeth is just what is needed to brighten a cold day. Dressed with a spiced oil this really is quite sublime.

A Winter Salad

1 large fennel bulb, thickly sliced
3 celery stalks, choppped into 1 inch lengths
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
3tbspns chilli spiced oil
1 tbspn lemon juice
salt and pepper

Put all the vegetables in a bowl, add the oil, juice and seasonings and toss together. Leave for half an hour or so for the flavours to mingle.

I use an oil I make myself that is infused with orange and chilli and garlic but there are many interesting oils widely available so simply use one that appeals.

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