Sicilian orange and fennel salad

I'm having a slight case of blogger's block. I want to write about 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
One orange
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.

9 comentarios:

Raquel dijo...

Debo probarlo. Y digo "deber" porque aún no he probado el hinojo crudo... Shame on me!

lobstersquad dijo...

Yo lo odiaba. Soy nueva conversa.

La Tartine Gourmande dijo...

I am faced with the same blogger's block and nostalgia about wow, yes, an amazing time. Don't you miss our morning walks too? Hearing men in the fields singing? As to the salad, I would have the same craving for it. Actually, we ate something similar today too. Blanch manger followed.

Esther dijo...

Lo probé en un restaurante de Oliva, mi pueblo hará como 2-3 años..llamada tal que así, "ensalada siciliana" y fue una maravilla. Será cuestión de repetir, me lo has hecho recordar. Esperando con impaciencia más impresiones gastronómicas tuyas!
Por cierto ¿harás algo especial por Semana Santa? monas, torrijas etc?

lobstersquad dijo...

Béa: ah, those walks, yes I sure miss them. I felt entitled to a huge breakfast after them.
Esther: se me olvida la semana santa, con esto de vivir en tierra de herejes. algo habrá que hacer!

Sara dijo...

One of the most favourite salad recipe here in Italy.. :-) and the winter and first spring is the best season ever for it!!

lobstersquad dijo...

Sara: in Spain we put salt cod and onions instead of fennel. good, but a bit strong, I prefer your version.

lobstersquad dijo...

Sara: in Spain we put salt cod and onions instead of fennel. good, but a bit strong, I prefer your version.

Vespa Woolf dijo...

I love your beautiful site...what nice drawings. I look forward to trying the gnocci di ricotta, too! Please check out my food ideas when you have a chance at http://vespawoolf.hubpages.com/.