Monday, October 5, 2009

Gordon Ramsay's Minted Melon, Feta and Fennel Salad

I have a complaint with Ramsay's cookbook. I might as well state it here. He wrote this cookbook to get people (and if you watch his show, The F Word - specifically women) back into the kitchen and cooking for their families. I don't have a problem with that. It's very noble of him to take this project upon his own shoulders. Heck, it obviously worked. Here I am. My complaint is with the cookbook itself. I think a lot of people might disagree with me, but there are just too many "side dish" recipes. Side dishes, typically, are the easy part of the dinner. Usually in my household, it's a bag of microwavable steamed veggies or instant mashed potatoes (yes, I did say instant). So, if I were to be true to this cookbook project, my family would eat a side dish for dinner. There needs to be a lot pairing up. In some cases, some pairing came easily. This salad, for instance, paired wonderfully with the Orange Tequila Shrimp (stay tuned for entry). Some things, like the baked eggs Florentine; well, I'm just not sure what to put with that. He also has dessert recipes. But what to serve with it? Hence the problem.

I've tried to make some pairings where I could, but I found that it completely screws the time results. I've attempted to stick to his given menus (see the Mexican Flavors, or Light and Healthy entries). At least I know those foods work together. I'm just not a good menu maker, though.

So, a word to the reader -- I'm trying to highlight his individual recipes, as given in his Fast Food cookbook, but, oftentimes, I've combined, just because I didn't want to serve a poached egg and toast for dinner all by itself. Sure, I could serve a side dish with a simple grilled pork chop, but, eh, well, you know. Right?

So, here is a perfect example. Minted Melon, Feta and Fennel Salad. I paired it with one of Ramsay's shrimp dishes, which you will see later (however, you will get a sneak peek in the last photo of this entry).

Fennel. (The original recipe called for two bulbs of it. Frankly that would have been way too much. One was more than enough.) Cantaloupe, salad greens, lemon, mint, crumbled feta, salt, pepper, white wine vinegar and olive oil.

Slice the fennel thinly (if you have a mandolin, I suggest you use it).

Give your cut fennel a nice ice bath to prevent browning.
Slice your cantaloupe thinly and in bite size pieces.

Mix the olive oil with salt, pepper, white wine vinegar, and lemon juice.

Drain and pat dry the fennel and place in a bowl with the melon, feta cheese and a healthy handful of salad greens. Toss with the dressing and serve topped with chopped fresh mint leaves.

The result? Absolutely glorious. The fennel provided a nice peppery bite and crunch. The melon was smooth and juicy. The feta provided a wonderful crumbly earthiness along with the mint. The dressing? Light, luscious and summery. This recipe is a definite keeper. My children gobbled it up. Carlo and I finished off every bit of the salad. We even dipped bread into the dressing left over at the bottom of the bowl.
Quick! That was the best part. Cutting the fennel was the most tedious part. I don't have a mandolin, so I did my best with my knife and trying to keep my knuckles out of the way.
I'd say the whole thing took about 20 minutes. The only other timely part of making the salad was the draining and patting dry of the fennel. Make this one people. I promise you, you and your family won't be disappointed.
"Minted Melon, Feta and Fennel Salad -- Done."

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