Shaving raw vegetables, either on a mandoline or with a very sharp knife, is an easy way to quickly transform them into a featherlike, elegant salad. The method works just as well with fibrous vegetables, like fennel, as it does with juicier ones, like cucumbers. You could also shave radishes, yellow beets, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, apple, or celery into the mix.
But as with any raw vegetable salad, assertive dressings and add-ins will ensure no one thinks you’re serving them just a pile of chicken scraps. You’re looking for an acidic dressing to penetrate and coat the sturdy raw vegetables — here, that simply means some lemon zest and juice. For mix-ins, you’ll make a Mediterranean-inspired salsa of olives, feta, and a few chopped fennel fronds. By layering the salsa with the lemony fennel and cucumbers, each forkful is studded with a bit of everything: bright, fresh, salty, rich, briny, crunchy.
Shaved Cucumber and Fennel Salad with Olives and Feta
- 1/2 cup
pitted, torn Castelvetrano olives
- 1/2 cup
cubed feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons
extra-virgin olive oil
large fennel bulb with fronds
Freshly ground black pepper
Persian or mini seedless cucumbers
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
Juice of 1 large lemon
Stir the olives, feta, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil together in a medium bowl. Season with black pepper. Finely chop 1/4 cup fennel fronds from the fennel bulb and stir into the olives and feta.
Trim the fennel bulb. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, shave the fennel and cucumbers lengthwise into very thin slices. Toss the fennel, cucumbers, and lemon zest and juice together in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
To serve, plate the fennel-cucumber mixture in alternating layers with the feta-olive mixture so you get a little of everything in each bite.
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