Saturday, 22 June 2013

Well, That's All Fine & Dandy!

Insalata di Tarassaco, Albicocca, Cetriolo & Basilico & Condimento alla Fragola
Dandelion, Apricot, Cucumber & Basil Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Some foods are acquired tastes, things that you either love or hate- and dandelion, like all things bitter, falls into that category. Obviously I LOVE bitter foods- just like any real Sicilian does- it's in our genes! Especially as I know they are good for you in any number of ways... but basically, I like to take my taste buds on a thrill-ride every now and again!

The dandelion greens were actually very pricey today, but I had already picked up a couple and popped then into a bag... I am sure the lady at the market hall could actually hear my gulp when she told me! But I didn't want to sound like a cheapskate in front of so many other customers, so I paid up and moved on, deciding then and there that I needed to do something funky and unusual with it to make the expense worthwhile...

Finally, now that the Summer has begun, (although it is scheduled to peter-out again for a week starting tomorrow), we have more of the seasonal fruits starting to appear. Obviously we are at the height of the strawberry season here, but we have apricots, peaches and figs coming in from Spain and Italy... and it is about time too!

So this was the plan- bitter dandelion, paired with apricot for sweetness, cucumber for freshness and basil for an aromatic depth of flavor... this was pretty intense stuff already! But you can't try to be subtle when it comes to dandelion- that is a mighty bitter tang that it brings with it! You need boxing gloves to do battle with that kind of flavor!

So, my culinary boxing gloves were made in the form of my dressing today, which I prepared quickly and easily like this. I put 4 strawberries, the juice of half of a lime, 1 tablespoon of mustard, 1 tablespoon of honey, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of plain yogurt into my mixer and gave it a whizz. I seasoned it with salt and pepper, whizzed it one more time, tasted it, patted myself on the back for making something so delicious and then poured it through a sieve to filter out the little bits from the strawberries, just for the sake of appearances... and my salad was almost ready to get "all dressed-up!"

I say almost ready, as I decided to add a sprinkle of marjoram to lift the flavor a little higher still- I am loving that dried marjoram in salads of late! And I hope that you will too- especially in this one! Oh, and if you try this and don't like it... just don't be too bitter too long! Enjoy!

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