Cabbages & Fennel Salad + Calabrese Frito: Preserved Lemon Dressing

At last the unveiling! I present to you the preserved lemons I put up this past summer. They’ve been patiently marinating in the back of my fridge all these months. They’ve been shoved back and forth, used to prop up other things, been in the way, and sometimes completely forgotten- but now here they are- front and center!

Last week, while walking the streets of the city, I was sure I picked up the faintest scent of spring. There was that damp earth coolness, with the back end of sunshine in the breeze. I smelled it, I’m sure I did. Like a drug it got my heart to beat faster and put a smile on my face.

I remember once while riding the subway, I overheard someone (who apparently was from California), say, “New Yorkers are so desperate for sunshine and warmth that when they get a nice day they practically get intoxicated by it!” She scoffed and Pfft!, and then went on to say something to the effect that a life living in perpetual sunshine was the way to go- Really? I don’t doubt that continuous loveliness would not be a fine thing, but I DO get all giddy at the change of seasons. It’s magical to me, and who doesn’t like getting intoxicated from time to time?!?

I ask you, is a steady stream of nice really better than a life with bursts of delight? I am not a particular fan of the gray doldrums of winter, but there is a rhythm to it. It touches my soul that the earth can take such a beating from the bitter winds, and then come back with heartbreaking beauty and tenderness. How wonderful it is to be reminded of regrowth, of the ups and downs of life, that even though things look bleak- it’s really just an incubator for the next. It’s the wane to the wax. It’s Grace.

I’m all about it.

All this is to say that good things are the gifts of patience. Like my lemons. Ah my lovely little lemons! I packed them with love, with anticipation, with slow expectation- and now they have surfaced as my winter blossom.

This is a simple salad, full of heart healthy cruciferous vegetables. Layers of finely shredded green cabbage, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts and shaved fennel, dressed with a creamy yogurt and preserved lemon dressing. I pan fried slices of Calabrese salami to a delicate crisp for a little fine texture and saltiness.

We are always growing and evolving and changing. As the Buddhists say: Life is a river. The river flows and moves along its course, and though it may seem like a static thing- that river over there- it is in fact, always changing- and never the same.

I believe that I am a river- and I take pleasure in the splashing.

Cabbages and Fennel Salad + Preserved Lemon Dressing
Perserved lemons can be found in many markets these days. Be sure to rinse them well to remove some of the saltiness of the brine. Preserved lemons have a mild, unique taste that I invite you to try, but if you can’t get your hands on any, you can use grated lemon peel in its place.
serves 4
1 preserved lemon, rind only, finely minced
1 c Greek yogurt, plain
2 t white vinegar
1T olive oil
{no need for salt, there is plenty in the lemons}
4 slices Calabrese salami

2 c finely shredded green cabbage
1 c Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, shaved thinly on a mandoline

In a small bowl combine the lemon, yogurt, vinegar and oil. Set aside and allow the flavor of the lemons permeate the yogurt.

Prepare the vegetables. With the fennel, place in cold water after slicing until ready to use.

In a saute pan, over medium heat, carefully fry the salami until crisp, about 2 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Remove the fennel from the water and pat dry.  Layer the vegetables amongst 4 plates, then drizzle with the dressing.

Top with a slice of the salami.

Happy almost end of winter!