Not quite a pickle and not quite a salad these Turkish flavors would be a great addition to your meze table at a Middle Eastern Feast. Cucumber & Fennel Meze.
- 1 pound very young cucumbers or better yet, persian cucumbers
- 2 very young fennel bulbs
- 3 thai bird or similar hot pepper
- 10 clove garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste) optional
- 3 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- olive oil to taste
Cut the cucumbers into ½-inch spears. You may need to quarter or half them. Young Persian cucumbers can often be left whole. You are looking for uniformity, so use your judgment.
Trim the fennel bulbs evenly, and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Retain the fronds for garnish. Remove some of the core, keeping the layers intact. Slice these into ½-inch slices.
Put the cucumbers, fennel, Thai chilis and garlic cloves into a large heat proof, low-sided bowl, tray or baking dish.
Add all the remaining ingredients to a large, non-reactive, saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool some for about 5 minutes. Then poor the hot liquid over the cucumber fennel mixture, stirring to coat well. The liquid should nearly cover all the ingredients. If not add a bit more water.
Let the mixture cool completely. You may then cover the dish and move it into the refrigerator. They will be ready to eat in about 4 hours, but will be at their best if you wait until the next day before eating them. Serve chilled on a family style platter with a bit of the marinade and a good drizzle of fruity olive oil. Garnish with fennel fronds.