It seems that spring has finally sprung and both my body and mind are lapping up the recent sunshine. There is something amazingly rejuvenating about the warm, amber glow of the sun seeping through your closed eyelids on a warm spring day. The vitamin D surge aside, I think colour has a lot to do with it. The emotion of colours has long been a popular subject; certain colours evoke strong emotional responses and are symbolic in their representation: blue is considered soothing, green is clean, red is the colour of passion and anger, while purple represents power.
I think that the spring sunshine and its bright haze of gold and orange stands for energy and rejuvenation, while its warmth girds our bodies in to greater activity and renewed vigour. It also looks very appealing! So when I decided that in honour of all this lovely weather I would make a mezze platter with salads for supper, I wanted to make something that gave off as much colour and energy as this much longed for good weather.
Fennel, Carrot and Orange Salad is a wonderfully bright and fragrant dish that works perfectly as part of a mezze style meal, as an accompaniment to a barbeque feast, or indeed, piled high on top of a baked potato with a good dollop of hoummous. The sweet crunch of the carrots with the fresh, aniseed bite of the fennel are brought to life by the combination of coriander, orange and lemon and make for a vibrant, complex tasting salad that hints at the future summer warmth to come.
FENNEL, CARROT AND ORANGE SALAD
Serves 4 – 6
450g (about 6 medium) carrots
1 large fennel bulb
The juice and zest of 1 orange
The juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
30g pine nuts
A small bunch of coriander
Preheat the oven to 200c (Fan 180c) and place the pine nuts on a baking tray. Toast until golden brown, remove from the oven and set aside to cool down. Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice and zest. Add the sultanas to the dressing and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
Peel and trim the carrots and remove any tough outer leaves from the fennel, then trim off the base. Using a food processor, or by hand using a grater, grate the carrots and fennel and combine together in a large serving bowl.
Finely chop the coriander, add it to the fennel and carrot and pour over the dressing and sultanas. Sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts and toss the whole salad until thoroughly combined. Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour before serving, the flavours will really develop.