Its Melbourne Cup Day in Australia. The race that stops a nation. Literally at 3.00 pm. A day for sweeps, calcuttas and flutters at the races all over the country. Hats and pretty dresses. Long lunches and champagne. Its going to be a hot and humid Spring day here in Sydney. Perfect weather for platters of fresh seafood and salad.
Here’s a refreshing little salad I like to prepare on hot days. Shaved slices of lemon pair beautifully with the fennel and rocket in this dish. The wafer thin slices of lemon help prevent the fennel from oxidising, and because they are so thin do not taste bitter. Use a whole small lemon; rind, pith and flesh. I like to slice the lemon and fennel bulbs on a Japanese mandolin but there is no reason you couldn’t use a food processor, although you would probably have to cut the fennel and lemon into wedges to fit the chute.
If you are lucky enough to find fennel bulbs with their delicate, feathery, fronds attached, pick the fronds from the stalk and add to the salad with the rocket.
Slice the fennel and lemon earlier if you wish. Combine well and leave to chill in a bowl in the refrigerator. Add all the other ingredients just before serving. The currants add sweetness and the almonds crunch. So easy to assemble. Even after a few glasses of champagne.
Shaved Lemon and Fennel Salad with Rocket, Currants and Almonds.
Serves 6 as a salad accompaniment to a meal
2 medium-sized fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced on a mandolin
1 small lemon, scrubbed and thinly sliced on a mandolin
3 cups wild rocket leaves, washed and dried
2 heaped tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
2 heaped tablespoons currants
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
COMBINE shaved lemon and fennel in a bowl with rocket leaves, almonds and currants.
SEASON with sea salt flakes and a good grinding of pepper.
ARRANGE on a serving platter.
DRIZZLE with extra virgin olive oil.