Tag Archives: fennel

Recipe: Crisp Vegetable Salad for Spring

I haven’t been doing much cooking recently, or at least, not much that is creative, but this little salad has been a nice change from the usual lettuce-cucumber-tomato-capsicum deal, and is a nice, fresh, crisp-tasting side-dish for spring.

Today’s version is brought to you by my friend A, who gave me a bag of baby carrots – really carrot thinnings, so even cuter – mint and other goodies from her garden when we went to pick her up for a freecycling trip.  The amounts are vague, because I am vague too, but the combination of small, sweet, crisp carrot with spicy radish, fragrant mint and aniseedy fennel is very tasty, and very easy to bring together on a plate.  You can use any light tasting vinegar – cider or white wine vinegar would work – but strawberry vinegar seemed to fit with the spring-like theme of this salad.

This recipe serves two as a side dish.

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Recipe: Winter Tuna Salad with Fennel, Orange and Hazelnuts

I love salads, but it feels weird to buy tomatoes and capsicums and cucumbers and other summer vegetables when it’s freezing cold outside and probably pouring with rain, too.  So as the year changes, I start swapping out my summer greens and vegetables for more wintry fare – red cabbage, apples, celery, citrus fruits, fennel, kale, and lots of nuts and legumes.

This is a recent lunchbox favourite of mine, making the most of the cooler weather and the beautiful things that are in season even now, when the idea of getting out into the garden isn’t terribly inviting.  I think I even prefer this to my summer tuna salad – I like the acidity of the orange and the earthy flavour of the hazelnuts and chickpeas, and even fennel has started to grow on me.

But mostly I’m posting this recipe because it made my office-mate envious last time I brought it in for lunch, which is a good indicator in my book!

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1/4 red onion
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 125 g tin chickpeas
1 small or half large fennel bulb
1 orange
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
2 handfuls baby spinach, rocket or parsley, or a combination of both (or any other likely winter greens that aren’t too bitter)
1 x 90g tin tuna packed in olive oil

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Recipe: Strawberry Salad with Fennel and Parmesan

fennelThis is a salad that I’ve made twice recently, prompted by the unexpected availability of strawberries at local markets, along with the more seasonal fennel that is everywhere right now.  It’s inspired by – and quite similar to – a savoury strawberry salad by Michael and Cindy of Where’s the Beef, which is to say, I was sitting there with some strawberries and fennel which I wanted to turn into a salad and was trying to decide what to do next, and then I remembered that Michael and Cindy put parmesan in theirs and realised that this was clearly the ingredient I was missing.  Now I look at their version, I realise that toasted nuts of some kind would indeed have been fabulous, so I encourage you to add these.

Judging by the leftovers we had of this at dinner tonight, I would say you might profitably marinate everything except the salad greens and perhaps the parmesan in the dressing for an hour or so before serving (think balsamic strawberries), and then just toss the greens with everything at the last minute.  But you don’t have to.  It was lovely as is.

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1/2 a red onion (how does one write that, anyway?  Writing out ‘half’ looks silly in a list, but there’s no doubt about it, 1/2 a red onion looks pretty damn silly too…)
2 tbsp blackberry vinegar, or balsamic vinegar, since I realise that not everyone is lucky enough to have blackberry vinegar, which is a truly sad state of affairs
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and if it happens to be infused with blood orange, more power to you!
1 medium fennel bulb
375 g beautiful sweet strawberries
150 g mixed salad greens
20 g shaved parmesan
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Recipe: Lamb, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry with Almonds and Saffron

I really don’t understand curries very well, which is why I’ve just bought myself a book all about curries from around the world.  You would think, then, that I’d follow the recipes in them, and indeed that was my intention, but basically I screwed up.  The curry I was going to make was a simple lamb curry with almonds and saffron, because I had diced lamb to use up, but it used twice the amount of lamb I had.  No worries – I would just halve the recipe.  Except that I forgot to do so, and once I had measured out the saffron water and started cooking all the onions and garlic and ginger – which I had accidentally doubled instead of halved anyway, hello, virus-brain! – and spices it was too late to go back without waste.

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So I decided to bulk out the curry with chickpeas and sweet potato.  After all, I don’t like stews of any kind that are just meat, meat and meat, sweet potato seemed like it would get along with all the sweet aromatic spices in this dish, and chickpeas are always a good random filler protein in my book.  Also, this lowers the glycemic index of the dish *and* makes it suddenly a lot closer to a one-pot meal (by which I mean that the ongoing Sickly Catherine feels empowered not to make a vegetable side dish now, which is a very good thing).  And then I looked at the cream added at the end of the recipe, and thought about the fact that I don’t like creamy sauces much and that I had this tin of coconut cream from goodness-knows-when sitting in my pantry waiting to be used, and…

I’m fairly sure we have lost any authenticity along the way (which is why I am not claiming that this is a Kashmiri curry, despite what the book says), but I have to say, it’s the best curry that I’ve ever made.  I strongly suspect that the slow cooker was an important part of this – the spices seemed to blend and work together rather than sitting awkwardly in different corners of the room, squinting sideways at each other.  That’s not what usually happens when I make a curry.  So, while a slow cooker is not a requirement for this recipe, I do recommend cooking it over the lowest heat possible for as long as possible if you don’t have one.

Still, next time, I *promise* I will follow the recipe properly.

I can do that, you know.

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2 tsp saffron threads
1 1/2 cup hot water
8 green cardamom pods
2 tsp dried cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp canola or sunflower oil
3 onions
3 cloves of garlic
about 2 cubic inches of ginger root
2 dried chillis
500 g cubed lamb shoulder or other stewing lamb
salt and pepper which I entirely forgot to put in, but you might want to
500 g sweet potato
Either 1 cup of dried chickpeas, partly cooked (of which more later) or 1 tin of chickpeas, which you will add at the end of the recipe
120 g blanched almonds
270 ml (a medium-sized tin – don’t get too hung up on measuring this) coconut cream

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Recipe: Lentils and Quinoa with Tomato, Fennel and Pepper

doneThis is another random pantry special that turned out very pleasingly.  It started off being based on Diana Henry’s recipe for lentils with peppers, but then it mutated into a one-pot dish involving quinoa and black lentils instead of red, and sun-dried tomatoes that I’d reconstituted and forgotten to do anything with, and oh, look, I have fennel that needs using, and… you get the picture.

It’s very healthy and full of protein and other good things – just perfect for lunch on a cold Melbourne day.

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olive oil
1 red onion
1 smallish fennel bulb
6-8 frying peppers or 3 capsicums
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp coriander, ground
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes, if you dare
200 g puy lentils
500 ml stock
400 g tinned tomatoes
3/4 cup dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes that have been soaked in warm water for at least half an hour
150 g quinoa
a handful chopped fresh coriander
yoghurt or soy yoghurt to serve, optional

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Recipe: Pasta with Ricotta, Herbs and Spring Vegetables

This is the revised version of a recipe I noted down here a while back, because I never really put in any quantities, just typed in the ingredients as I remembered them, because it was late and I was tired!

But the recipe really is too delicious not to be written up properly, and with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes starting a new Pasta Please monthly challenge with a cheese theme for January, it seemed the perfect time to re-visit this recipe and do a proper version of it.  So here is the new, improved version with actual quantities and also variations!

The quantities I’ve noted below will definitely work, but feel free to experiment or change things – the essence of this dish is pasta, ricotta, and some herbs and vegetables so that you can pretend it isn’t all about the cheese.  You really can’t go wrong with this sort of meal.

Vague shopping list

1 punnet (250 g, approx) shelled broadbeans

1 small bunch of parsley

1 handful each of basil and mint

350 g ricotta

100 g parmesan, grated
25 g salted butter
black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of butter, olive oil, or, ideally, a combination of the two, for sautéing vegetables.
3 spring onions (the long skinny kind)
1 baby fennel bulb
2 small bunches asparagus
3 yellow pattypan squash
350 g rigatone pasta
 

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Recipe: Vegan Pizza Primavera with Salsa Verde

There seems to be a bit of a theme on this blog recently, doesn’t there?  But what can I say?  It’s Spring! And that is, after all, what Primavera means…

I tend to be much more vegetarian-oriented in the months from about October to April each year.  It’s to do with what’s in season, I think – it’s really not difficult to come up with lovely vegetarian meals based around tomatoes, eggplants, mushrooms, asparagus, beans, corn, zucchini, and all the other lovely things we get around here at this time of year. And the warmer weather encourages shorter cooking times and lighter appetites and fresher tastes. So we will be vegetarian four or five days a week, and sometimes more at this time of year.  Winter is harder – it’s difficult for me, at least, to get truly inspired by meals centering around root vegetables and leafy greens.  I have some, of course, but they are fewer and farther between.  I don’t really like stodgy food, either, and seasonal vegetarian food for winter often is stodgy…

Anyway, this pizza is so brilliant that it really doesn’t matter whether you are a vegetarian, a vegan or an omnivore.  It’s gorgeous whichever way you slice it (and speaking of slices, I recommend scissors for cutting up pizza – good enough for my Nonna, and now good enough for me, too).  It is, I must admit, particularly welcome on a night like tonight, being set out in company with a pumpkin, feta and rocket pizza (for which I must also provide the recipe one day), a conventional sort of pizza with eggplant, salami, roasted peppers, semi-dried tomatoes and mozzarella, and Nigella Lawson’s Meatzza, which is a Margherita pizza with a meatloaf base.  This pizza provides much needed lightness and freshness to the meal, and the salsa verde keeps it zingy.

But it’s pretty fabulous all on its own, too, and we have eaten it as a meal on several prior occasions, without feeling any lack of meat.  Give it a try!

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Base

1 tbsp dry yeast
1 cup water that is just barely warm to the touch
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups fine semolina or 2 cups high protein flour, or half and half

Salsa Verde

1 cup basil leaf
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup coriander
2 Garlic Cloves crushed
50 g salted Capers well rinseded
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
45ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
a good pinch of salt
freshly ground Black pepper

Vegetable topping

2 bunches asparagus
1 baby fennel bulb
1 small zucchini
300 g cherry tomatoes
6 small mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
oregano, black pepper

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Recipe: Vegan Pasta Primavera

First up, I should confess: the version of this dish you see is not 100% vegan, because I had this beautiful fresh egg pasta that needed to be used.  But the sauce is definitely vegan, and as I actually cook with egg-free pasta most of the time, it will certainly be vegan next time I make it.  So I think this counts as a vegan pasta dish, at least in its heart!

The sauce for this pasta is light and herby in flavour – I was trying to get a sort of ricotta-ish personality to the tofu, and I think I succeeded.  It’s actually based on a cheese, nut and herb purée from Mark Grant’s excellent book, Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.  If you have any interest in historical foods that are actually edible and don’t involve flamingoes or dormice, I can highly recommend this cookbook.  The vegetables were what looked good at the farmers’ market and at the supermarket.  This recipe is, of course, even more fun if it’s what looks good in your garden, so if you have zucchini peas or string beans growing, feel free to use them in place of some of the other vegetables.  This recipe is very forgiving.

Don’t be intimidated by the very long list of ingredients for this recipe, by the way.  I promise that this recipe is very easy to make (the blender does much of the work), and practically every ingredient can be substituted for what you have on hand.  If you have a herb garden, you can have a lot of fun picking the different herbs for the sauce.  If not, don’t worry if you miss a few of them.  I think the parsley, coriander and mint are the most important, though the basil is good too.

Above all – enjoy!

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200 g tofu
150 g pine nuts
half a bunch of fresh parsley
half a bunch of fresh coriander
two sprigs of mint
two sprigs of basil
one sprig of oregano
four sprigs of dill
80 ml olive oil + more to sauté the vegetables
60 ml red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste
150 g shelled broad beans (about 400g in the pod)
3 baby leeks, halved lengthways and sliced
1 baby fennel bulb, or half a standard fennel bulb, sliced finely
1 bulb of baby garlic (at the point where it is still a single clove), or one clove of the mature kind, chopped finely
12 baby carrots, as many colours as possible!
2 bunches of asparagus (about 225 g prepared weight)
1/2 cup white wine
400 g cherry tomatoes, as many colours as possible!
60 g spinach or rocket or a combination of both
500 g pasta, to serve

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Recipe: Mildly Courageous Potatoes

(NB: still no idea what’s happening with shifting web-hosting, which is making me reluctant to post much here just now, in case I hit exactly the wrong window and it all gets deleted. Sorry.  I had no idea it would be this complicated / confusing.  On the bright side, my music blog is getting extra posts as a result – all this writing has to go *somewhere*.)

There’s a Spanish recipe for potatoes cooked with a spicy, tomatoey sort of sauce called Patatas Bravas.  Roughly translated, this means Bold Potatoes.  I’ve never been nearer to Spain than a slightly dodgy Spanish restaurant many years ago, so I can’t claim to know what the original variety tastes like, but I’ve seen a few recipes for these potatoes around the place.

Trouble is, I’m a wimp when it comes to chilli.  I’m better than I was, but a lot of chilli in a dish tends to take all the fun out of it for me.  As a result, most Patatas Bravas are far too bold for me – hence this gentler, more quietly courageous version of the recipe.  You can, of course, chilli it all up again if that takes your fancy, but I rather like tasting all the flavours without being overwhelmed by chilli heat.  Also, sweet potatoes make everything better (and better for you), which is always a bonus.  Give it a try!

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olive oil
400 g potatoes
400 g sweet potatoes
1 red onion
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 – 1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground chilli
1/2 – 1 tsp smoked paprika
pinch of saffron
salt, pepper
2 capsicums, preferably in two different colours
2 cloves garlic
400 g tinned tomatoes
 

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Recipe: Somewhat Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad

Another quickie, but I made this last night and it was lovely, and I thought it was worth sharing.  It’s a very refreshing salad, good for cutting through a rich meal (in this case, Rosa Mitchell’s insanely good pasta al forno, of which more later), and rather nice for winter weather, when there isn’t much around by way of salad greens.  This recipe is inspired by her orange salad, which is even simpler than my version – to me, fennel and blood oranges were irresistible additions at this time of year, and I was right…

It is a bit fiddly to make, at least in my view (I’m sure there are people out there who can segment oranges efficiently, but I am not one of them), but very much worth it.

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2 blood oranges
2 navel oranges
1 large fennel bulb, or two small fennel bulbs
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
4 tbsp olive oil

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