It’s worth picking up a little courgette plant from your local garden center just so you can make this salad, even just once or twice, with the freshest, finest courgettes. A plant pot outside your back door may be all you need. If you can’t grow your own, though, seek out really fresh little courgettes; they should be no bigger than your middle finger and as firm as wood in the hand. Their nutty flavor takes this beautifully clean salad to another level. Crisp fennel bulb with its muted aniseed, and raw peas in the pod, freed straight into the bowl, create lovely textures that bound around in lemon and dill and mint – the perfect salad-bowl bedfellows.
250g (9oz) very fresh peas in the pod or about 100g
(3½oz) frozen peas
4–6 small, very fresh courgettes
1 fennel bulb, trimmed
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 or 4 mint sprigs, leaves picked and thinly rib boned, a few left whole
1 small bunch of dill, fronds picked from the stem
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pod the peas if you’re using fresh, and set aside. If not, bring a small pan of salted water to the boil and add the frozen peas. Cook the frozen peas for 1–2 minutes, until they are just tender, then drain them in a colander and refresh them by running them under cold water. Drain again and set aside.
Trim the courgettes, then slice them thinly into rounds of about 2mm (1⁄16in) thick. Very finely slice the fennel bulb down its face, from top to bottom. Make sure your slices are as thin as you can get them. (You can use a mandoline for this, but ensure you use the
Place the sliced courgettes, sliced fennel and cooked peas in a bowl and add the lemon juice and zest, and the olive oil, mint ribbons and leaves and dill fronds, and generously season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to tumble everything together gently and bring to the table.
Recipe from Gather by Gill Meller
Publisher: Quadrille Books
Photography: Andrew Montgomery