Thursday, January 5, 2012

That's all I'm eating

I was thinking of telling you about my New Year's Day feast but then I thought it would be cruel to describe succulent pieces of roast pork with honey, thyme and orange juice, crispy pork skin, melt-in-the mouth potatoes and the best Politiki Vasilopita (New Year's Day Greek brioche-type bread) I have ever made, when all I'm going to share with you today is a salad.

A salad I did not serve at my New Year's Day feast but a salad I made and enjoyed the day after. I know it's not fair, but then again maybe it is. Because perhaps you're fed up with seeing pictures of fatty meat or better yet, fed up with eating it. I know I am. I think I'm all "meated" out.

My body yearns for salads and fruits, grains and legumes. That's all I'm eating these days. Greek lentil soup, clementines*, homemade barley bread and salads. This one here could easily be a part of a Christmas or New Year's dinner but I saved it for the following days on purpose. I don't want to lose all that glitz and glamor when January 2nd hits. I want my after-the-holidays salads to be just a tad superior to the everyday, middle-of-the-winter ones.

Last year's first post was again a salad—I guess I'm developing a pattern here. One with endives, apple, walnuts and Roquefort cheese. This year's salad though is not your typical winter salad. It's a herb salad. It is earthy, citrusy and well, herby.

Herb salads are nothing like vegetable salads. They're more pungent, more aromatic and their flavors can travel you to places you rarely visit. Places where parsley, mint and dill are treated not as your ordinary herbs but as stars in their own right.

The fresh herbs are paired with pomegranate seeds, winter carrot, fennel bulb and fennel seeds that are toasted and add another dimension of spiciness to the dish. And then my favorite citrus fruit, the orange, decorates the plate and enhances the overall flavor of the salad, firstly with its juicy segments and secondly as a reduced orange juice-syrup that is added to the dressing along with olive oil and lemon juice.

The result is an amazingly refreshing, vibrant and sweet-smelling salad. I'm not going to mention how healthy it is for you, that is obvious, I'm just going to tell you that it's guaranteed to boost your senses. Pinky swear.

P.S. I got this as a New Year's present from S. I foresee a lot of brûléeing in my future. Hang on tight!

* Whenever I talk about clementines, Kate Winslet (which I love) and this movie (which I also love) always come to mind.

Herb Salad with Fennel, Carrot, Pomegranate and Orange
Adapted from Nadia Zerouali & Merijn Tol

You can serve this salad with a grilled steak, chicken, a nice piece of fish or with some grilled cheese like halloumi or feta. Along with a glass of wine, you have dinner.

Yield: 6 salad servings

1 Tbsp fennel seeds
2 large oranges (the sweeter the better)
100 ml orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 small bunch of fresh dill
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
1 small bunch of fresh mint
1 pomegranate
1 medium-sized carrot
1 fennel bulb and fronds
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ medium-sized lemon, freshly squeezed
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the fennel seeds in a non-stick skillet and dry-fry them over medium-high heat, stirring them around constantly, until they become fragrant, for about 1 ½ minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Remove them from the skillet and let them cool.

Cut the oranges by using a sharp knife. First, cut off the peel, then the white pith all around the fruit, exposing the flesh, and finally, cut free the flesh of the fruit from the membranes that are in between the wedges. Put the orange segments in a bowl and set aside. Squeeze the rest of the orange and measure the juice. If you don't have 100 ml, add some ready-squeezed orange juice or squeeze it from another orange.

Place the orange juice in a small saucepan and boil it over medium heat until it becomes syrupy, for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn it or reduce it too much because it will become bitter. Leave it to cool.

Pick the leaves from the dill, parsley and mint and place them in a bowl. You can do this ahead of time and keep the herbs in a Ziploc bag in the fridge.

Cut the pomegranate in half and take the seeds out with a spoon. Place the seeds in a bowl.

Peel the carrot and cut it lengthwise into ribbons, using a sharp knife, a vegetable peeler or a mandoline.

Cut the fennel bulb lengthwise using a sharp knife or mandoline. Cut the fennel fronds and add them to the herbs.

You can cut the carrot and fennel ahead of time and keep it in a bowl filled with water and ice cubes so that the vegetables remain crisp.

Make the dressing by adding in a small bowl the reduced orange juice, the olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. Mix together well, using a whisk.

Drain the carrot ribbons and the fennel in a tea towel.

In a large salad bowl or platter, combine the dill, parsley, mint, fennel fronds, carrot, fennel and pomegranate seeds. Add the orange segments and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle some toasted fennel seeds on top and serve.


  1. This certainly looks aromatic! I love the ribbons of carrot. It all looks so composed :)

  2. OOoh -- this would brighten up my lunch!

  3. The salata looks bright, vibrant and we need that for Winter. I looking forward to seeing your pork dish after that description!

    Kali Xponia!

  4. nice salad! i made one similar to this in December... salads are the best, who gives a damn about pork roast, really? :P

  5. That is the second post in a row with a beautiful orange salad: looks like we all crave healthier food after two weeks of bingeing! I love your pictures and adore salads filled with aromatic herbs.

  6. How beautiful and light! You are being much better than I - as you will see when my "lite" post comes out on Saturday! :) I am anxious to try this wonderful combination of herbs and fruits! ~ David

  7. Exactly what I'm craving right now.

  8. I've been meaning to tell you how beautiful and substantial this salad looks.

  9. We are all "meated" out in my house too--and there's nothing like these fresh salad compositions, lightened with herbs and citrus, to brighten the palate in dreary winter.

    All the best to you and S in 2012.

  10. Nico — thanks!

    lauren — I be it would :)

    Peter — thanks! Kali Xronia!

    Banana Wonder — salads are the best, for sure.

    Nuts about food — thank you! Most people I know are in desperate need of eating more healthy foods after the holidays, I'm no exception!

    Cocoa and Lavender — thank you David, do try it. Looking forward to reading your post.

    Denise — thank you!

    lacaffettierarosa — I'm glad you like it.

    Tracy — thanks!

    Nancy — thank you so much!!

  11. This salad is so pretty! I love all the different colours you have going on.

  12. This looks like the perfect wintertime antidote to the cold and grey outside, and my desire to make lots of ragus and stews in the kitchen. :)

  13. Lovely salad! I love your bowls, they remind me of the ones I grew up eating cereal out of!

  14. I soo understand you! I am all about simple dishes too... I'm glad I am back home and I plan a week of salads and legumes too... Your salad looks like a great start!