As documented in this post I got my hands on a couple of new herbs, one of which was Hyssop. After reading up on it I thought a taste test would be best to determine how to use it in a recipe. I pulled a couple of leaves from the plant and started chewing on them. First you are hit by a pleasant bitterness, it is bitter without being to 'green' tasting and it reminded me a lot of rocket (which I adore). This being an aromatic herb likened to rosemary or lavender I was surprised by lack of actual, well, flavour. But I should not have worried, after a while you get hit with a lovely earthy flavour with hints of aniseed. Now I had enough clues to start with a recipe.
Rocket Salad With Caramelised Fennel And Hyssop Goat Cheese
Hyssop is recommended with fatty fish and meats and dairy so I chose to incorporate it into some soft but tangy goat cheese. A base of rocket leaves and fennel will complement the flavours of the hyssop.
Soft goat cheese
Slice the fennel so that it is still thick enough to not fall apart. Lightly oil the slices and put them on a hot griddle pan. Check for colour, if there are golden brown marks it is time to flip them over. Let them rest in the pan (off the fire) while you prepare the rest.
Now it is time to flavour the goat cheese. Chop up three or four stalks of hyssop (I had young shoots so I kept the stalk). Add this to the cheese together with a liberal twist of pepper and mix thoroughly with the back of a spoon. Now form bite sized pieces by rolling them in your hands.
Almost done, it's hardly cooking isn't it? I quite like the lazy man's approach to making dressings so I put the rocket into a bowl and a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of vinegar (I used a rather sweet wine vinegar), some salt and pepper and mix. Salad dressed.
Now all that is left is some assemblage. Put the dressed rocket on the plate, adding the fennel, the goat cheese balls and some sliced semi dried tomatoes. Garnish with a bit of the fennel leaves and you are done.
I am really happy with this salad. The sweetness of the caramelised fennel works very well with the goat cheese and the rocket and hyssop add that little edge. I am surprised by how lovely this herb is actually. It really heightened the goat cheese making the flavour profiles more complex without overwhelming the dish at all. And if you can't get hyssop, you can easily use a lot of other lovely herbs (oregano seems a likely substitute).