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Cookbook Tester: Hudson Valley Mediterranean by Laura Pensiero

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Hudson Valley Mediterranean is written by Laura Pensiero, the chef/owner of Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck, NY, and Gigi Market in Red Hook (not Brooklyn), NY. Pensiero presents the Hudson Valley as the “Napa of the East,” and the book’s recipes, which are categorized by season, are accordingly Alice Waters-esque. So for summer, we get panzanella, tomato-basil soup, grilled steak and arugula, and so on. It’s a little bit dull, but if you need a simple suggestion for greenmarket produce, this book would do.

We tested the recipe for watermelon and fennel salad. (And also the fantastically simple recipe for bluefish dijonnaise from the New York Times Magazine last week–highly recommended.) The salad was just fine, very refreshing, and the recipe works well as written. We added extra jalapeno and mint at the end, to zip it up–feel free to do so, too.

Click through for the recipe.

Watermelon Fennel Salad
Yield: 4 servings
From Hudson Valley Mediterranean by Laura Pensiero
Feel free to substitute olive or canola oil for the grapeseed oil.

2 cups cubed watermelon
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon diced jalapeno
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby greens
1 cup crumbled feta

In a mixing bowl, combine the watermelon, onion, fennel, mint, jalapeno, lime zest and juice, and grapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper, and stir gently. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, to allow flavors to meld.

When ready to serve, mound 1 cup greens on each plate, and divide the watermelon-fennel salad over the greens. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the salad, and serve immediately.

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