Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Garlic Scented Lima Beans
Fennel, Feta, Mint, Oregano, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil

Cool-crisp Persian cucumbers and creamy-buttery lima beans make a delightful summer duo. Fennel adds a bright crunch with a sweet, nutty anise flavor.

The large limas by Lompoc Beans are sold at our local Torrance Farmers Market. They are also available online. Grown in Santa Barbara County, the beans cook up beautifully smooth and tender.

Soak 2 cups of beans in water for 4 1/2 hours then drain. Place beans in a pot and add fresh cold water to cover by 2 inches. Add 4 smashed garlic cloves. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer, cook uncovered, for one hour. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary. Cook al dente (soft but not mushy), taste a few beans for doneness. Drain. Set aside to serve at room temperature.

It’s a fun salad to compose. Put cucumber chunks in a roomy ziplock bag and smash with a mallet. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle fruity olive oil into the bag. Add shaved fennel and toss the bag to coat the veggies with the dressing. Let marinate for 10 minutes.

Smashed Cucumber Salad Composition

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Fennel and Cabbage Slaw with Bacon, Egg, Peas

Fennel and Cabbage Slaw with Bacon, Egg, Peas

Warm Fennel, Cabbage, and Celery Slaw
with
Bacon Lardons, Poached Egg, Peas, and Scallions
Garlic Whole Grain Croutons

I just blinked an eye and my fennel bush grew four feet. And those umbels of petite yellow florets seemed to suddenly appear too. I didn’t want to harvest the bulbs – the plant is so pretty in the garden with its bright feathery leaves – but I did want to use those fronds and flowers in a dish. It turns out that my friends at Food Network are featuring all kinds of SLAW this week,  so I started with fennel and cabbage (from the farmers market) as a base and built this delightful salad from there.

Unlike most slaws, it is served slightly warm. And there are many flavors and textures in the dish that harmonize with each other. It is flexible too – going low-carb or gluten-free? Just leave out the croutons. Vegetarians can omit the bacon. Everyone can still be happy. Guaranteed.

Fennel Cabbage Slaw Recipe

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THIN IS IN: Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan, Walnut

Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan, Walnut, Olive Oil, Balsamic Syrup

Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan, Walnut
Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Syrup

It’s almost summer and thin is in! Thin vegetables, that is. A mandoline slicer can help turn a fennel bulb and common white mushrooms into a graceful salad or side dish. Pretty paper-thin watercress leaves add a bold peppery flavor. Their deep green color contrasts the pale fennel, mushroom, and cheese. Walnuts bring nutty, earthy flavors and a crunchy texture. Dressed with fruity olive oil and balsamic syrup, the final dish has a synergistic elegance beyond its everyday components.

THIN IS IN SALAD/SIDE DISH RECIPE

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Griddled Chicken, Saffron Tangelo Syrup, Fennel Herb Salad

ottolenghi saffron chicken

Griddled Chicken Breast, Saffron Tangelo Wedges with Syrup
Fennel , Cilantro, Basil, Mint with Lime Vinaigrette

minneola tangelo image, tangelo recipe

Minneola Tangelo Branch of Citrus Salad Tree

Planted in 2008, my Citrus Salad Tree is now bursting with ripe fruits. This is a citrus tree that has 5 varieties of fruit grafted onto one trunk; Persian Lime, Valencia Orange, Honey Mandarin, Late Lane Navel Orange, and Minneola Tangelo. The juicy bell-shaped tangelo, also called a honeybell, has a very sweet flavor with a thin peel. The Minneola is a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine, developed by the USDA in 1931.

I adapted this bright colorful chicken dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “saffron chicken & herb salad” featured in the cookbook, Jerusalem, to incorporate tangelos and limes from my tree. Ottolenghi blitzes his orange syrup into a paste, using a food processor. I thought the tangelo wedges added texture and color to the dish, so I left them intact. The sunny citrusy honey saffron flavors shine, either way…

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Lacquered Brisket of Beef, Pickled Fennel

lacquered brisket of beef, pickled fennel

Lacquered Brisket of Beef, Anise Ginger Garlic Tamari Glaze
Served with Pickled Fennel

Meet a match made in heaven: Lacquered Beef Brisket & Pickled Fennel. Bright tart crisp pickled fennel flavored with star anise and cinnamon marries super-tender slow-cooked brisket brushed with a barely sweet Asian-flavored sauce. Reducing the brisket cooking liquid of beef broth, star anise, ginger, garlic, sugar, and tamari results in an intensely flavored glossy glaze.

The meat is lacquered with the glaze, and it is painted onto the plate. The result is a striking combination of flavor, texture, color, temperature. Everything can be prepared a day or two ahead. A five lb. brisket serves nine, with the cost per serving under four dollars, making this a terrific dish for entertaining.

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seafood taco contest

midnight sun halibut & crab tacos

crispy rice paper wrapped alaskan halibut with leek and dijon mustard
king crab/ meyer lemon garlic mayonnaise
grilled meyer lemon wheel/ shaved fennel/ fresh dill

Lori Lynn & Pooch “Mrs. Cooper”
Homer, Alaska 1993

Alaska Seafood is holding The 1st Ever Wild Alaska Fish Taco Recipe Contest. And since I am a fan of (1) Alaska, (2) the hosts, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, (3) fish tacos, (4) recipe contests, (5) sustainable fishing practices, and last but not least (6) food trucks – this challenge had my name all over it!

Living in Southern California we periodically venture south of the border, so we’ve been enjoying Baja fish tacos for decades. My original Wild Alaska Fish Taco, however, was to be quite different from its southern cousin. When creating the recipe, my first decision was to determine what ingredients NOT to use:

  • no cabbage
  • no cilantro
  • no white onion
  • no lime
  • no salsa
  • no avocado

The second decision was to choose which Alaska seafood to include – salmon, crab, cod, pollack, halibut, sole, black cod, spot prawns, weathervane scallops, or rockfish? I chose the mighty halibut from the halibut fishing capital of the world and the king of all shellfish – king crab.

The next step was to create a flavor profile with ingredients that complement the halibut and crabmeat:

halibut + dill + leek + dijon + fennel + meyer lemon + king crab + mayonnaise + garlic

The last step was to decide how to incorporate all these fabulous flavors and textures in one glorious tortilla while still being recognizable as distant relative of the famous Baja fish taco. To get a light crispy crust the halibut is wrapped in rice paper then fried. The rice paper wrapper also marries the leek and dijon to the piece of fish. This hot crispy “fish stick” contrasts with the cool sweet crabmeat, the fresh crunchy fennel, and the smokey citrus notes from the grilled meyer lemon. The rich garlicky lemon mayonnaise and bright fresh dill are the finishing touches. Just slice, mix, grill, sauté, and assemble – no special technique required to create the one-of-a-kind halibut & crab taco, a tribute to the land of the midnight sun!

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