There are several different levels of good, and while I achieve good and even very good on a regular basis those “oh my God this is sooo good” moments are a lot rarer.
This salad is one of those jackpots, I have no idea where the inspiration came from but the ingredients just work lovely together. It is by no means a very fancy thing, but the simplicity allows each ingredient to sing. Thus it really does matter to chose good quality produce. My sun dried tomatoes the first time I made this was purchased from a farmer selling them outside the Ġgantija temple complex in Gozo. His fields were right behind his back, and the tomatoes had been prepared by his wife that week. He did warn us before we tasted that these were so good that if we tasted them, we would end up buying them. Oh my! Was he right!
OK let’s get down to business, this is how you do it!
1 shallot (or a small onion, half a normal onion or even red onion would be fine too
1 clove of garlic
3 T extra virgin olive oil (approximately, depends on the amount of onion you have)
a handful of chopped mint (I have made this with basil too, and although it works it just isn’t such a perfect match)
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
10 sundried tomatoes (depends on the size, if they are large you might need less and vice versa if they are small)
First chop the shallot very finely and cover with the olive oil, finely chop the garlic and add to the mix. It is important to keep the pieces small as you don’t want the taste of the raw onions to be overpowering, this is why this step is done first so that the oil have time to work it’s magic. Basically the onions will end up a lot sweeter, for lack of a better word, the longer you leave them there the better.
Then move on to the fennel and sun dried tomatoes, I like to julienne them but there is nothing stopping you from cutting them into cubes. (Just don’t tell me, OK?) Mix them together in a serving platter, this is also the point where you add more sun dried tomatoes if you think it looks like there might not be enough…
Squeeze the lemon into the dressing and add the mint (I also like to add the green bits from the fennel, but that is not necessary), taste to check that the balance between lemon and oil is right. I like this dressing to be a little on the tangy side it seems to work better with the tomatoes. Then add the dressing to the fennel and tomatoes toss and enjoy!
This salad keep really well, and might even taste better after a night in the fridge!
And that’s all there is to it! So easy and so so good… Do yourself a favour and make this as soon as you can!