This relies on the simplest of combinations, and it’s so easy to prepare, however the very best quality ingredients are crucial. In Italy it is made with fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, however it is delicious made with creamy soft goat cheese. It is impressive served scattered, haphazard, on a large flat platter.Ingredients for 4 people:
250g soft goat cheese (highly recommend ‘Gruff Junction’) or 1 x 300g pottle fresh mozzarella
1 fennel bulb – with the feathery shoots still on if possible
1 bunch celery – (you will use the white heart only. Trim off the stalks and wash the heart.)
Quarter of a cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out.
1 lemon – you’ll need the both zest and juice. Use the finest zester you can.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – preferably Aurum
Fresh Ground Pepper
Remove the outer leaves from the fennel bulb as they can be tough and stringy. Trim the base. Remove any feathery shoots and put aside. Slice the fennel as thin as you possibly can. A mandolin is ideal – if you don’t have one just slice slowly and carefully – almost transparent is how thin you should aim for. Slice with the grain, to obtain tear drop shaped pieces. Scatter the fennel evenly over the platter.
Slice the celery heart as thin as possible too. Scatter this evenly over the fennel. Do the same with the peeled, seeded cucumber. The platter should be covered with a flat layer of evenly sliced vegetables.
Now take the goat cheese, break it up and crumble and scatter it over. If you use Mozzarella, drain it of its liquid, and tear it up. You want to have torn strips haphazardly arranged over the vegetables. The arrangement of this salad should be similar to a Carpaccio: large, and flat.
Roughly chop the reserved fennel fronds and scatter over. Scatter over the lemon zest. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and a little lemon juice. Finish with a sprinkling of salt flakes and a grind or two of pepper.