The following dish morphed from preparing a simple green salad for a good friend and neighbour whose birthday we were attending. I had all the necessary provisions yet I found myself trolling the garden looking for parsley. Gazing around the vegetables my thought was just to pick whatever looked ready and add it to the dish. Served with a little extra virgin olive oil, the excellent "Joseph first run" and some aged cabernet vinegar as well as a walnut and caper salsa we should have an excellent salad.
2 heads of small fennel with fronds
4 Chioggia Beetroot.
10 baby carrots and 5 purple carrots.
4 spring onions
4 stems of baby celery
Some salad leaves, I used raddiciho as it was plentiful in the garden
Some leaves of flat leaf Parsley
Carefully wash all the vegetables. Peel and rewash the onions, carrots and beetroots. Wash and dry the salad and herb leaves. Remove the outer leaves from the fennel to reveal the tender centre. Using a mandolin or knife thinly slice the carrots, beets and fennel. They should be around 5mm or less in thickness. Chop the celery and spring onions on an angle and pick some fennel fronds and parsley leaves.
In a large open salad bowl build up the layers of leaves, herbs and vegetables being mindful to allow the salad to have an open feel (see photo). Top with slices of beetroot.
Just prior to serving sprinkle with madden sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a walnut and caper dressing (recipe below) and serve.
WALNUT AND CAPER DRESSING.
Place about 75g of raw walnuts in a mortar and pestle or food processor with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pound till the nuts are in small pieces but not a paste. Add 1 tablespoon of drained baby capers that have been finely chopped and 2 tablespoons of chopped flatleaf parsley. Mix together gently adding in Extra Virgin Olive oil till the mixture is quite runny, around 100ml. Finish with 1 tablespoon of good white wine vinegar and the juice of half a lemon. Check the seasoning and serve.
LINKS AND READING
The following are links to the Diggers Club and the Italian Gardener both of which are excellent sources of vegetable seeds, advice and other excellent products.
I have also been reading "Heirloom Vegetables; A guide to their history and varieties." by Simon Rickard. This is a wonderfully entertaining and information packed book for anyone interested in Heirloom vegetables.
My own Plant based website www.theplantbasedchef.org