This aromatic recipe draws inspiration from a dish I enjoyed on the breezy seafront terrace of Donyana restaurant in the historic coastal town of Akka. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has a long history; it is mentioned in Egyptian texts from the nineteenth century BC, while in Greek mythology it is supposedly the place where Hercules found a medicinal plant to heal his wounds.
Donyana is a derivative of the word that means ‘the world’ in Arabic and, wandering through the city’s ancient winding streets and Ottoman-era fort, the mélange of influences that have gathered here over the centuries is tangible. Paying homage to that, this glorious mixture of textures and flavours celebrates local Palestinian ingredients.
- 2 fennel bulbs (about 300g in total)
- 1 Granny Smith apple, or other tart apple
- 15g dill, coarse stalks removed, finely chopped
- 15g parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 30g sweetened dried cranberries or sour cherries
- 50g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
- juice of ½ orange, or to taste
- juice of ½ lemon, or to taste
- zest of 1 organic or unwaxed orange, removed with a zester
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Core the fennel and apple and, using a sharp knife or mandolin, finely cut both into very thin slices, saving any fennel fronds. Place in a bowl with the herbs and cranberries or cherries.
Toast the almonds in a dry pan over a medium heat until they turn golden brown, then add them to the salad.
Pour over the orange and lemon juices, orange zest and extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently and taste; you may want to add a squeeze more lemon or orange juice to adjust the acidity or sweetness to your liking. Scatter with the reserved fennel fronds, if you have them.
This salad can happily sit for 1 hour or so before serving; in fact, it even improves, as the flavours have a chance to harmonise.
Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan is published by Bloomsbury ($45.00) Out now!