It's Spring!!! The mints are coming, the mints are coming!
This is my my all time favorite salad of the past two years, and I eat it whenever I can find spearmint. I can have it multiple nights in a row and not tire of it. I got the original recipe from a great cookbook called "Best of Gourmet 2001: Featuring the Flavors of Sicily." You can also (of course ;) ) find the original on Epicurious.com .
The first time I made it, I followed the recipe exactly. It combines frisee, watercress, mint, scallions, olive oil, lemon or vinegar and pine nuts. Although that combo is great and potentially addictive, my version takes it to the level of crack cocaine.
As I can hardly ever find a good frisee (not sure why, just happens to be that way), I use any sort of lettuce that I have around (barring iceberg). My favorite is a mix of green butterleaf...preferably the kind that comes with its roots still attached with a bit of potting soil. I then add a spring mix of baby greens. Watercress, if around and fresh is tasty.
Thinly slice fennel/anise. I primarily use the stalks and bulb, but also add some fronds.
Thinly slice some scallions
Tear lots of mint into smaller pieces.
Chop and toast almonds. (I love the taste of fresh pine nuts but am very sensitive to rancid oils and find very few pine nuts that haven't turned. Plus, I always have almonds around so the switch was easy for me. Plus they're quite tasty in this mix so a no brainer).
Put all together. Add a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Toss until lightly and evenly coated No need for lemon or vinegar, nonono. The oil and the flavors of the pure salad are enough to fill your taste buds with unimaginable delight. Not only does it taste great, but the mint and fennel are both herbs that make digestion happier.
Happy tummy, happy tastebuds, happy you and me.
Picture of fennel from here Mint from here