Recipes from food stylist Nicolas Ghirlando: Fish fingers to Friday nights.

Salad Days

fennel-salad-portrait
I love fennel, and I especially love it cooked. It’s gentler and softer. A bit like Frank Bruno compared to Mike Tyson.

Maya, my daughter, has become especially taken with baby cucumbers recently, and hoovers up cherry tomatoes quicker than a hoover. I have a couple of boxes of the cucumbers in the fridge, and before I pickle them (if she doesn’t eat them all first) I’ve used some in this salad, enjoyed in the calm of a weekday lunch alone. I would have added petits pois, had I not left them in a bowl on the other bench, but this was delicious enough.

The borage flowers, lightly cucumbery themselves, made their delicate presence felt and the slight sweet sharpness of the tomatoes cut through nicely.
The fennel, still slightly warm was soothing against the crunch of the cucumber. I went back for more.

Ingredients
Half a fennel bulb per person, sliced
1 baby cucumber each, sliced lengthways
Some cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
A sprinkle of borage flowers
A few tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
Peas if you want them

For the dressing:
1tsp Dijon mustard
2tsp sherry vinegar
1tsp tamarind paste (or double the lemon juice if you don’t have any. It just adds a fruity sharpness)
1tsp lemon juice
2tbsp walnut oil
2tbsp olive oil
A pinch of salt

Method
Heat a griddle pan to high, drag the fennel through some olive oil and season.
Grill until charred a little on each side.
Put on plates and top with the remaining ingredients. Season and pour over the dressing.

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