A simple dressing to lift any summer salad

Nothing says summer quite like a dish of baby vegetables in a fresh dressing

 

Everything has gone green. Even the grass. The summer sun has finally decided to give us a kiss. Everything becomes light. The root vegetables have finally retreated from the kitchen after a near nine-month stay (is the Irish winter really this long?).

Asparagus, broccoli, spinach, mange tout: all crispy and moist. There’s the baby vegetables as well: carrots, beetroot, turnip, radish. You don’t even need to cook them. Wash and slice whatever way you want, and then season with sea salt and dress with extra virgin rapeseed oil and a nice vinegar.

What about elderflower vinegar? This is super simple to make. Take some elderflowers from the tree and place them in a 3-2-1 solution (vinegar, water, sugar). Bring to the boil and remove immediately. Allow to cool. It’s best let sit for a week but you can use it sooner.

After you have dressed your vegetables, maybe add a little fresh herbs, such as dill or fennel. Nothing says summer more to me than these herbs. Both are great to grow in your garden as well. I planted fennel five years ago and it’s still growing strong. It seems to mind itself, so if you have any space at all go out and get yourself a fennel plant.

Fennel oil is also a wonderful addition to summer dishes of baby vegetables. Blend three parts oil to one part herb and then warm until the herb rises to the top. This will take only a few minutes. Don’t heat too much. Strain and then keep in the fridge.

This oil is wonderful for dressings or mayonnaise. If you want to cook your baby vegetables, carrots for example, warm a little oil and butter in a pan and gently cook your carrots until soft. I like to add a little carrot juice to the pan so it intensifies the flavour.

To serve, spoon the carrots into a bowl with the reduced juice and dress with fresh fennel fronds and fennel oil. A nice sour cream would also work really well with this dish. Just a spoon to help bring all those flavours together.

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