If it’s hot you don’t want to cook – it’s sometimes hard enough to get up the energy to slice things – and you crave juiciness. The summer appetite wants coolness and moisture. At its most extreme that means buckets of granita and sorbet, or draughts of beer and lemonade.
But at the table you want thirst-quenching cucumber, the aniseedy freshness of shaved fennel, the milkiness you find in the stalks of baby gem leaves. Radishes – drop them into icy water before eating to chill them and crisp the flesh – will cool you too, as will mooli, the long Asian radish.
This salad is good on its own or serve it with feta cheese, smoked salmon, or cooked fillets of salmon. If you’re one of those people who hates raw onion just leave it out.
Put the mustard, honey, garlic, vinegar and some seasoning into a cup and whisk in the oil in a steady stream. Check the seasoning (the salad has quite a bit of lemon in it so don't make the dressing too sharp).
Slice the radishes wafer-thin lengthways to make teardrop-shaped slices. Place in a bowl.
Quarter the fennel and remove any coarse outer leaves. Trim the tips, reserving any tufty fronds. Cut out the core. Using a very sharp, fine-bladed knife or a mandolin, slice the fennel lengthways very thinly. Add to the radishes and squeeze on some lemon juice (you need to squeeze the lemon on immediately or the fennel will discolour). Cut the onion as finely as possible too.
Peel the cucumber in strips, so that you are left with stripes all the way round (unless you hate the skin, in which case remove it all). Slice very finely. Add to the bowl with the onions, and squeeze on a little more lemon. Chop any fennel fronds you gathered up and add to the bowl. Toss with dressing and serve.
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