I just loved the salad I had at the wonderful Barrafina recently: Fennel, Comice Pear & Radish …
… It was so simple but perfectly put together and balanced and of course I knew immediately I’d want to recreate it at home some time. At Barrafina I ordered some Salt Cod Fritters to go with it but wanting something more simple to prepare, I decided instead to roast some cod. I’m lucky to have an excellent fishmonger nearby – Sandys – so I popped in there in the morning and bought a lovely cod cutlet.
I made a marinade using Yiannis’s gorgeous throumpi (winter savoury) again and some olive oil, dried chilli flakes, a pinch of saffron, salt and freshly ground pepper. I wanted to add some flavour to the fish before roasting and also give the dried herbs time to soften a bit and their flavour come out in the marinade and fish before cooking. Throumpi has a strong flavour so wouldn’t be appropriate with all fish, but cod can take strong flavours well. I marinated the fish for about an hour before cooking then near the time I wanted to eat, I put it into a pre-heated hot oven (Gas 7/220C/Fan 200) for 20 minutes.
While the fish was in the oven, I made the salad. The perfection of Barrafina’s salad was it had clearly been put together at the last minute – specially for my serving! I think this is essential so the ingredients stay crisp and don’t lose their freshness as the dressing will soften them. Of course, if you’re entertaining then making it a little before you want to use it will be fine – but please don’t make it hours ahead.
The ingredients, of course, are very simple: a head of fennel (I used just under half), 1 ripe Comice pear, a few radishes. My salad at Barrafina also had lots of fresh herbs added. My pots of herbs in the garden are dying down but I managed to find some chives and mint, and some herb fennel from which I picked some feathery leaves. I also had flat-leaf parsley in the fridge and used that too. I chopped my little bundle of fresh herbs fairly finely, ready to put on the salad.
I sliced the vegetables and pear as thinly as I could. I made a dressing for the salad with some extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice (about 3 tablespoons oil to 1 tablespoon lemon juice – but depending on your taste) and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I then whisked it to emulsify before pouring over the salad.
I laid all the sliced vegetables in a dish and then scattered the finely chopped herbs on top. I poured over the dressing and then very gently mixed it all together with my hands. It’s messy but this really is the best way to mix a salad like this – and you can always wash your hands!
I transferred the cooked cod to a serving plate – and then supper was ready to go!
The salad was gorgeous with all the lovely crispness and freshness I remembered from Barrafina. I love the combination of the sweet pear, aniseed fennel and peppery radish. It seems a very wintery salad to me and I’m sure I’m going to be making it a lot over the coming months. The fish was good too: the marinade with its gorgeous flavours was just perfect for the cod. There was quite a lot of salad – it was really enough for two – so I have some left over for lunch today. It won’t be quite as wonderful as last night, of course, now softened after a night in the fridge, but I reckon it will still be very good!