Spicy fennel-carrot salad

This salad almost killed me. It’s a lovely mix of two spring vegetables — fennel and carrot. It gets its zest from fresh lemon juice, and a bite from hot pepper. It’s somewhere between a salad and a pickle — it sits long enough to absorb the flavors, but unlike most of the fennel salads often served with mezzes around here, it’s still incredibly crisp.

I whipped up this salad in the mid-afternoon, intending to have it with dinner. After it’d been sitting for half an hour or so, I tasted it to see whether the vegetables were absorbing the flavors. The fennel was bright and crisp, with a sharp zing of pepper. I tasted another piece. And another. After all, there are worse things than binging on fresh fennel, and I still had time to make more for dinner.

In my enthusiasm, I must have inhaled some of the liquid. Wowza. Let’s just say that it absorbed the hot pepper well.

So, in short, if you find yourself unable to stop munching on these crispy fennel pieces, just be careful not to inhale any hot pepper.

For four servings (unless you eat it all before it makes it to the table):

  • 1 medium fennel head
  • 1 carrot
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 small hot pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Prep time: 5 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes.

Chop up the fennel and carrot. Cut the hot pepper into rings — about 1 centimeter worth will give you nice heat, the entire pepper will make the salad quite spicy. Mix everything together. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before eating, mixing it a few times to make sure the vegetables are marinating.

The salad is also good after sitting in the fridge for a day.

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