This is an impressive salad that’s easy to assemble with few ingredients. You want to be sure the melon is ripe and sweet because it’s the balance of the sweetness from the melon that works so well with the other ingredients. Just scoop out the melon and avocado into the bowl and top with the fragrant mixture of ground toasted fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest then just a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil. Note: You will need a spice or coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind the spices. This recipe is adapted from nytimes.com.
Melon and Avocado Salad with Fennel Dust
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar (1 teaspoon if melon is not very sweet)
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
Small cantaloupe or honeydew melon, seeds removed
1 ripe avocado, cut in half, pit removed
1/2 fennel bulb, core removed and sliced into thin strips
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- In a small skillet over medium-low heat. toast fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes, moving them around to keep them from burning, until fragrant, about a minute. Transfer to spice grinder (I use a small coffee grinder) and process until almost a dust but with still some small spice pieces visible. Alternatively, put the spices in a mortal and pestle and grind by hand.
- Transfer the spice mixture to a small bowl, add the salt, sugar and freshly grated lemon zest (from the entire lemon). Rub this mixture together with your fingers until well combined.
- Using a soup spoon, scoop out spoonfuls of melon and place them in a bowl. Do the same with the avocado but use a smaller spoon. Arrange the avocado pieces on top of the melon. Add the slices of the fennel bulb on top of the melon and avocado.
- Squeeze the juice from 1./2 the lemon over the avocado and melon. Sprinkle with 1/2 the fennel seed mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Taste and add more fennel mixture and lemon juice if needed.
Note: Be sure the avocado pieces get drizzled with the lemon juice. This will help them from turning brown. If you want this to be a bit spicier, increase the red-pepper flakes to 1/2 teaspoon.
Adapted from nytimes.com