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by Diane Kochilas (Harper Collins, 2003)

There are so many recipes in this book that I just itch to cook and long to eat but I think you might be able to guess why, out of so rich a choice, I couldn't help but  highlight the Arugula and Shaved Fennel Salad with Nigella and Manouri Cheese. However, I am not quite about to work out why the author thinks that 'black sesame' is a euphemism for nigella seeds. I prefer to think of it as the other way around. And actually, you will also come across nigella seeds labelled black cumin.

Argula and Shaved Fennel Salad with Nigella and Manouri Cheese

Greek argula is extremely peppery and delicious.  The fennel is cooling, the mild manouri cheese soothing, and the nigella - "black sesame" as the Greeks euphemistically refer to it - adds a delicious, smoky crunch.  Together, they work really well.


Makes 6-8 servings

  • ½ large fennel bulb, cut into paper-thin slices (about 3 cups)
  • ½ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups trimmed, torn argula leaves
  • 3½-inch round slices of Greek manouri cheese or ricotta salata (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon nigella seeds or toasted sesame seeds



  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil over high heat and add the fennel.  As soon as the water begins to boil, blanch the fennel for 2 minutes.  Remove and drain in a colander.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, salt, and pepper.  Combine the argula and fennel in a mixing bowl, and toss with the dressing.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the dressing for drizzling on top of the salad.
  3. Place the greens on a round platter.  Cut the cheese slices into 4 equal pieces and place around the greens on the platter. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the cheese.  Sprinkle with the nigella or sesame seeds and serve.