Recipe by Paula Marcoux.

This fresh salad takes advantage of that evanescent just-picked quality by balancing apples’ sweetness and tartness with complex herbal flavors, and it puts across some good textural contrasts to boot.

Pro-tip: You can just use pre-ground coriander and pepper if you must, but consider that the sheer pleasure of working with whole spices is one of the secrets good cooks are keeping to themselves when they appear to be working hard in the kitchen.

  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons whole coriander seed
  • ½ teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 juicy lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro (or both)
  • 1 medium bulb fennel
  • 3 to 4 crisp fresh apples, chilled (picked at CN Smith Farm, perhaps)
  • 1 bunch arugula

Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan over medium-low heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until their color deepens a shade and their flavor develops. Pour onto a plate to cool.

Add the coriander seed to the still-hot pan and roll them around for a couple minutes, or until they, too, smell wonderful. Add the peppercorns and toast for a few more seconds. Grind the hot spices to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. (The resulting aroma is its own reward.) Add the garlic and salt, working it to a paste. Juice in the lemon, and stir in the olive oil and chopped herb(s). If you prefer to use a spice grinder, let the spices cool a tad, then pulverize them and add to the remainder of the dressing ingredients (mincing the garlic first, of course). Set aside the dressing while you prep the produce.

Slice the fennel finely into bite-sized pieces and put in a big bowl. Cut the apple from the cores in wedges, and slice the wedges crosswise into 1/8th-inch slices. Add to the bowl. Chop the bunch of arugula across every inch or so, and toss the whole thing together. Correct salt and serve promptly.

Serves 2 for lunch; 4 as an appetizer.

Exclusive recipe created by Paula Marcoux, Edible South Shore & South Coast’s Food & Recipe Editor.