Inspiration, not unlike perspiration, happens unexpectedly and far more pleasantly. Whilst trawling our local Growers Markets, I happened upon some bulbs of baby fennel and trays of sunny yellow and dark red to the point of black, cherry tomatoes. The bloke on the stall informed me that the dark reds were named Black Russians. This romantic moniker instantly transported me to long gone days of Tsars, bejewelled Faberge eggs and Rasputin. All set against a backdrop of snow covered mulit-coloured Russian Orthodox churches. A far cry from the humid heat and slick sweat that was slowly rolling down between my shoulder blades. (Of course Tsarinas don’t perspire they gently ‘glow’ but I doubt that the Russian royalty of that era went veggie shopping under a blazing hot Aussie sun either.)
This unseasonably warm weather calls for salads and lots of ’em. My fridge coughed up a jar of the lovely marinated Meredith goats cheese feta. And so it was. Crunchy, finely sliced aniseed fennel, the sweet tartness of tomatoes, the creamy goaty tang of the cheese and the herbal zing of mint. Perfect for a bloody hot day and a dish fit for a Tsar or perhaps even a mad monk.
TOMATO, FENNEL AND FETA SALAD
WHAT YOU NEED
250g cherry tomatoes, I used a mix Black Russian and yellow
1 baby fennel bulb (or half a normal size bulb)
Juice of half a medium size lemon
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to season
50g goats cheese (if you don’t have or like goats cheese, a creamy feta cheese would be a great substitute)
1 tbl fresh chopped mint
HOW YOU DO IT
Wash the tomatoes, de-stalk and slice them in two.
Wash the fennel bulb, slice in half and take out the hard core in the middle. Using a mandolin, slice into fine slices. (The fennel that is, not your fingers.)
Place the tomatoes and sliced fennel on a platter or in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and add the lemon juice and olive oil.
Toss together and let this sit for 15 to 30 minutes to absorb the flavours.
Crumble the feta over the salad, scatter the mint and et voila!
Serves 2 very hungry people, could serve 4 alongside a lot of other dishes. I had it with a lemon pepper pork schnitzel. It was the bomb.
A Cheergerm take on a number of similar salad recipes