Friday, 30 August 2013

Recipe: Cucumber and Fennel Salad

a few thoughts
This recipe, created & entered by Stephanie Betts, garnered second place in our recipe contest. A recipe that introduces people to simple home cooking, we loved it for its sheer simplicity and audacity... just 2 market ingredients! (well.... not counting the dill and honey). It is simple and fresh and super easy to make. And it uses fennel... people hardly ever know what to do with this wonderful plant! 

Imagine a recipe this simple winning a recipe contest! It's like the intro I was reading to the Local Bounty cookbook that talks about a chef getting sneered at by other chefs at a cook off for bringing beautiful seasonal veggies and assembling a salad with a very simple vinaigrette... 

We live in an age of celebrity chefs and televised cooking competitions sporting elegant plates of expertly stacked entrées. But you don't need to create elaborate preparations or use complicated techniques in order to prepare wonderful food. The better your ingredients, the less you really need to fuss with them. There is a famous story about Alice Waters, founder of the venerable Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, long-term food activist, and pioneer of the fresh, organic, local foods movement. She travelled across the country to act as a guest chef for an event featuring various eminent culinary professionals. For her contribution, she brought freshly picked, heirloom salad greens and prepared a simple dressing. A fellow chef sneered, "That's not cooking, that's shopping!" And Waters responded, "Exactly!"

So with just fennel and cucumber and a simple vinaigrette, this recipe is sheer simplicity itself. And audacity. This recipe has it!

Ingredients for this recipe can be found at all four vegetable vendors at our market: Riverbend Gardens has fennel, dill and cucumbers; Dargatz Family Farm and Holden Colony have cucumbers and dill; Good Morning, Honey and Holden Colony both have honey. 

Thanks, Stephanie!

Cucumber and fennel salad
Eating this salad with fresh cukes and fennel from the farmers market is the best.
1 fennel bulb cored and thinly sliced
1/2 a larger cucumber or 2-3 small cucumbers, thinly sliced (you could also add in some celery or radishes in here too)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoon red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar 

1 teaspoon freshly chopped dill
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon mustard

Mix up the vegetables in a medium sized bowl. Place all ingredients for the dressing in a jar, seal and shake until it is all combined. Pour dressing over veggies and toss. Salad should be served within a half hour of dressing, but will hold up in the fridge overnight for leftovers in lunches the next day. Serves 4 when used as a side dish. 

It's light, fresh and easy to play with depending on what you have in your pantry or fridge. I've been making it all the time because it's so easy to put together! 

Recipe from Stephanie Betts, 2nd Placed Winner in our Annual Recipe Contest
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Intro by Sheri Hendsbee

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