A winter slaw in wintry weather? Strangely, it worked a treat despite the chill wind that doth blow today and all last night too. It’s been whistling down from the North East, from the Alps perhaps, swirling its way across the Balkans before heading at speed across the Mediterranean to us here in Malta. Jacob knows all about winds, fronts and isobars! He’s mid revision for exams and geography was on the cards last night. As he puts it, mimicking the geography teacher: “We’re experiencing an arctic continental air mass”! With ‘mass’ pronounced ‘maaaas’ in the geography teacher’s heavily-accented English.
Well, wherever this particular air mass is coming from and whatever it’s name, it isn’t the kind of weather one would think of delighting in eating a salad in. However, and here’s the rub of it, Malta in winter is really a kind of spring of northern Europe as the waysides are thick with wild herbs (not all in flower yet, but growing apace) and the farmers’ market is choc with tempting greenery. Far too good to cook up all the time, so I forayed into using fennel and radicchio raw for once, to ensure I max out on healthy vitamins. Flu is in that air mass too, so I’d rather do what I can to keep it at bay.
Fennel, a favourite of mine, grows wild and is cheap to buy as well here in Malta. A bit pallid though so I used a crimson radicchio, firm and fresh, to accompany it. I adore radicchio, having first come across it 25 years ago in a Tuscan restaurant in Rome’s Trastevere quarter. There, it was served quickly char-grilled, wilted and dressed. Funny how it works both hot and cold.
Add blue or some other crumbly tasty cheese and you’ve a light lunch. This winter slaw is a great accompaniment to pulled pork and homemade burgers as well.
[bctt tweet=”Crisp & cold as winter, this slaw of radicchio, fennel & blue cheese is sheer health.”]
All images © Liz Ayling 2015
- 1 medium head of radicchio
- 1 medium - large fennel bulb plus fronds to garnish
- 200g blue cheese or goats cheese (crumbly cheese best)
- 200ml thick (or Greek) plain yoghurt
- 1 tbsp aniseed (or cumin seeds)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsps fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2½ tbsps apple or white wine vinegar
- sea salt & fresh-milled black pepper
- Put the aniseed in a small frying pan and dry roast briefly. Then crush half the seeds in a pestle and mortar til fine.
- Peel off outer leaves and layers of both the radicchio and fennel bulb. Wash and spin in a salad spinner if need be. Then cut them first in half, and then slice very finely into thin strips. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
- Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar. Season a little with salt and pepper, and add a few whole aniseed.
- Crumble half the blue or goats cheese into the yoghurt and use a fork to first mash and then stir the cheese into the yoghurt.
- To make up the salad, pour over most of the oil-vinegar dressing and toss with salad servers. To plate up a portion, dollop a tbsp of the yoghurt-cheese mix on top, drizzle on some of the remaining dressing and crumble over some of the blue cheese.
- Garnish with finely-cut fennel fronds and a drizzle of the oil dressing and some whole aniseed.
- Eat immediately, though the salad will keep in an airtight container for a day in the fridge.