Dukkah is an Egyptian condiment that is nothing short of brilliant. It is beautifully fragrant and often used a dip for flat breads or vegetables. Traditional dukkah is made with hazelnuts and ground to a smooth paste, much like a thick hummus. However, just lightly toasting and crushing the whole spices renders a great seasoning that has many more uses.
Fennel is one of my favorite summertime vegetables. I grow it in my home garden and grab it from farm markets all summer when I've harvested all of my bulbs. Fresh fennel bulb has a mild anise flavor and is crunchy, and lovely, and refreshing. Everything that grows from the bulb is edible, including the fronds and flowers. The flavors of dukkah, fennel, and lemon are a match made in culinary heaven.
This salad is beauty in its most simple and whole form - it is literally the entire fennel plant. If you have edible flowers by all means throw in some lavender or marigold. This salad is a great addition to any meal, or, if you are like me and love fennel, it makes a nice light meal with a slice of bread and a glass of rose.
For the Dukkah spice:
3 tbsp. coriander seeds
3 tbsp, sesame seeds
2 tbsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
For the salad:
4 medium to large fennel bulbs, stems, fronds, and flowers
2 tbsp. dill, finely chopped
4-5 fresh mint leaves, cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. olive oil
Sea salt or Maldon flake salt to taste
1. Place a small dry skillet over medium heat. Add the coriander, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds. Stir with a wooden spoon until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Do not become alarmed if the sesame seeds start to darken. Set aside and let cool completely.
2. In a mortar, add the cooled spices from the skillet and the black peppercorns. Gently crush with a pestle until slightly powdery but not pulverized. Or, in a small bowl, crush the spices and the black peppercorns with the back of a spoon. Set aside.
3. Cut the stems and the fronds from the fennel bulbs and set aside. Carefully clean the fennel bulbs keeping in tact (they tend to have dirt) and dry well. Using a sharpened knife or mandolin thinly slice the bulbs and place in a medium bowl.
4. Remove the fronds and any flowers from the fennel stems. Chop the fronds and flowers and scatter over the sliced bulbs. Save the stems for stews or stocks.
5. Add the dill and mint to the salad bowl with the fennel.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil until emulsified. Drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle the dukkah spice and salt over the salad to taste. Toss everything together. (Any used spices will keep in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 1 month.)
Lavender and marigold flowers to garnish (optional)