Saturday, 4 May 2013

Land of the Giants

Insalata di Rucola, Cedra & Ravanello
Arugula, Cedra Lemon and Radish Salad

On the little island of Sicily, under the shadow of a volcano until that Mediterranean sun comes through, these incredible, giant lemons grow... aren't they just amazing? And I know what you are probably thinking... life gave me giant lemons- I am going to make gallons and gallons of lemonade! Well trust me... you're not!

If you are not familiar with the Cedra lemon, the whole thing with it, is that the actual fruit within that whole, huge shell is the same size, if not smaller, than a regular lemon- and has very little juice comparatively speaking. Underneath the thin, yellow outer peel is a thick layer of white "pith"- and this is that part that you eat!

Admittedly, this is an acquired taste, as it has a slightly spongy consistency, but it has a mild, lemony flavor and in nicely refreshing without being acidic at all. I like to nibble on it after a meal to cleanse my palate, as is the tradition in Sicily... but today, and not for the first time, I decided not to end my meal, but to begin it with my giant lemon...

So this is how to go about preparing this salad- starting with the simple dressing. To make it, I took the yellow peel of the cedra, which needs to be removed for eating anyway, and first blanched it for about a minute in boiling water (just dropping it into a cup will do) and then by drying it off and frying it gently in olive oil for 3-4 minutes with a sprig or two of thyme and a little garlic. I then let the oil cool off for 2-3 minutes and added a squeeze of the juice of the cedra, a little honey and some white pepper. Simple. 

The next thing I did was to slice the peeled cedra into the thinnest slices I could manage- but it's not a problem at all if they are a little thicker as it is so soft and tastes so mild. I arranged the arugula, thinly sliced radishes and cedra on my plate and sprinkled them with a little fresh thyme and some funky, black sea salt... just for the hell of it! Of course you can use white salt and black pepper... I just did this... because I can :-)

So that was all there was to it... I drizzled the salad lightly with the dressing/oil and added a few super-thin slices of lemon zest as a garnish and extra "kick". Hope you enjoy it if you ever stumble across one of these giants! Give it a go in any case! Have fun!

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