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 19th 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.
Serves 4 as a side dish
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 tbsp 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.
Extract taken from Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan (Absolute Press, approx €29.50). Photography © Matt Russell.