As anyone with even a remote understanding of history knows, Greek food is considered the "food of the Gods" for the very simple reason of Greek mythology and for the very real reason that Greek food is considered Mediterranean and the Mediterranean diet is considered, by many, to be one of the heathiest in the culinary world.
When I first enjoyed this salad in Patra, Greece (right on the Gulf of Patras near Mt. Panachaikon), I was simply blown away! The local smoked bacon over a mound of julienned fennel and lightly drizzled with a horseradish mustard dressing, literally almost had me screaming for joy. Smoked bacon and fennel may be one of the greatest taste marriages to ever enter my mouth.
As with most Mediterranean dishes, this is extremely easy to prepare at home and you can find all the ingredients at your local market. As far as the horseradish mustard, there are some wonderful gourmet varieties available and though you might think the dressing will over-power the freshness of the salad, it doesn't!
There was one thing, however, that bothered me when I ate this salad. There was a slight lingering on my tongue with each bite and I couldn't figure out what it was. I asked the waiter (who did indeed resemble a Greek God) and he just smiled. Finally I asked the Chef and without saying a word (which I wouldn't be able to understand anyway), he smiled and put a whole nutmeg in my hand. I love this country, its people and its food!
Ingredients needed to make Greek Fennel and Bacon Salad with Horseradish Mustard Dressing (serves 2):
- 1 fennel bulb, julienned
- I Tbs. horseradish mustard
- 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and quartered
- 1 green onion, julienned lengthwise
- Soak your julienned fennel in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes (this will increase the crunch). In Greece they will add the juice of a half of lime to the water.
- Remove the fennel from the water and place in a medium bowl.
- In a small bowl whisk together the horseradish mustard, olive oil and nutmeg.
- Pour the dressing over the fennel and toss to coat.
- Mound the fennel onto serving plates.
- Frame the fennel with the pieces of bacon and the green onion.
- With the leftover dressing from the bowl the fennel was in, drizzle the salad and serve.
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