During the late summer I sometimes feel I’ve eaten rather too many raw salads. If you add cooked vegetables or even fruit to salads there is a much wider range of appetizing possibilities. This is one of them. It can be served as a first course or as part of a cold lunch.
Trim the base off the fennel bulbs and remove any marked outer parts. Cut the fennel lengthways into fairly thin slices and steam for 8-10 minutes, until just soft. Meanwhile, put the oil, vinegar and sugar, if using, in a small screw-top jar and season well with salt and pepper. Seal the jar and shake well to make a dressing. Put the fennel into a bowl and pour some of the dressing over it while hot. Leave until cold.
Cut the greengages into quarters, removing the stones. Chop the olives roughly. Mix the greengages and olives with the fennel and stir in the smoked oysters and their oil. Turn into a serving dish or on to individual plates and garnish with a few pretty salad leaves. Spoon some more dressing over the salad just before serving.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.