Thursday, October 11, 2007

Carrot and Dill Salad

Been looking for fast and interesting lately. As the year seeps away with no sign of summer I suddenly feel the need to be making salads - as accompaniments at least if not the main event. Blades of peppery rocket with halved baby plum tomatoes topped with basil oil, sweet potatoes roasted with whole onions and thyme served room temperature, fennel and celery with a sharp vinaigrette. The days are colder and darker but they end with a big bright bang.

Last night we had wild boar chops from Silfield Farm. Slightly stronger meat than a similar cut from the saddlebacks of Ginger Pig they grilled up juicy and toothsome with a good crackle of rind. I had a small bunch of fresh dill in the fridge that I wanted to use so it was to be star salad of the evening.

I like dill weed with its dinstinctively gentle aniseedy taste. A herb that's been around forever, it has been accorded many properties over the years. Considered a symbol of good luck by first century Romans, dill has also been thought to possess magical properties. The bruised seeds impart their virtues to alcohol and to boiling water. Hippocrates had a recipe for cleaning the mouth: "Clean teeth with ball of Wool dipped in Hone {honey}, rense with 1 tsp. of dill seed boiled in 1/2 cup of white wine” - that combination would surely make a good salad dressing. It has been used as well to guard against witchcraft and for potency in love potions. In Drayton's Nymphidia are the lines:

'Therewith her Vervain and her Dill,
That hindereth Witches of their Will.'

Such possibilities!

Had some sweet fat carrots as well in fridge, so this was the result.

Carrot & Dill Salad
3 or 4 largish carrots
2 tblspns chopped fresh dill
1 tbpsn spiced oil
Splash of lemon juice
Salt and cracked pepper

Grate the carrots - or better still get your trusty assistant to do so for you - into a bowl. Mix in all the other ingredients. Serve.

Easy. Tasty. Beautiful too.

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