The year was 2013 when I posted a dish by the Hairy Dieters to illustrate on strange food habits. Like, for example, eating over and over again the same dish or ingredient for a whole season. Over and over again… The dish in question was orange and fennel salad with harissa dressing (here). Almost 2 years after, another fennel and citrus salad shows up, this time to explain that grapefruit (and avocado) are my food crazes of 2015. Well, citrus were exceptionally good this year and any excuse was good to have them. Not trying to convert this in a head to head citrus salad competition…. this one is a more sophisticated and chefy, ideal to impress dinner parties mobile calorie intake units guests. Also, it calls for the best ingredients you can find. There is no harissa to hide in this one. In any case, totally worth the effort.
Fennel, orange and grapefruit salad with mint (adapted from a Matthew Accarrino’s recipe found in Food & Wine Magazine)
- 2 red grapefruits
- 2 navel oranges
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 2 fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons small mint leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Using a sharp knife, cut the skin and white pith from the grapefruits and oranges. Working over bowl, cut between the membranes to release the sections into the bowl. Squeeze the membranes to extract the juice. In a small bowl, stir the olive oil with the honey and lemon juice. Add 3 tablespoons of the citrus juice and season with salt. [You most likely won’t need all the juice] In a shallow serving bowl, toss the fennel and citrus sections with the dressing. Garnish with the mint leaves and ground coriander and serve right away.
Every now and again, I find a dish that I like so much I do it over and over and over again. Like, for example, the Russian egg salad. Or, this cauliflower soup. And, let’s not even mention the whole #beetrootgate affair. This is one of those dishes, which has become one of the staples of last Winter (and Spring… and even Summer). It is just divine with smoked trout, baked salmon, cold cuts… And all this for less than 250 calories for a reasonable sized portion. Really, what not to like this salad?
Fennel orange salad with harissa dressing (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 2 medium size fennel bulbs, trimmed, woody central core part removed and thinly sliced
- 2-3 oranges peeled (white parts out) and cut into 5cm chunks.
- 1/2 radicchio washed and thinly sliced (escarole or endive also will also works well)
- About 20 roasted salted almost slightly crushed with a mortar
- Handfull of raisins or sultanas (or a mix of both).
For the harissa dressing
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1/2 white wine vinegar
- 1 pinch ground coriander
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Place the sliced fennel in a salad bowl. Carefully remove the white bitter parts of the orange and slice the oranges to divide flesh sections. Add to the bowl Crush the roasted salted almonds with a mortar and tip in the bowl. Add the sliced radicchio In a small bowl whisk well the harissa, honey, coriander and white wine vinegar. Pour in the olive oil in a very thin stream (spoon by spoon), beating all the while. The sauce is ready when it you obtain a glossy, slightly thick mixture. Drizzle the harissa dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine. Serve immediately.
You may have noticed a lot of Middle Eastern flavors in this blog as of late. Jerusalem – the latest Yotam Ottolenghi‘s book – is partly to be blamed, but… this was how everything really started: The Laughinglemon‘s Moroccan Feast. I knew I would like it when I saw it, and registered without further ado. What I was not expecting was Jack’s pulling his mother’s old family recipes and throw at us a family meal cooked from the heart with all love and care. The kind of thing I will cherish for a very long time. * grab kleenex to wipe a stubborn tear *
As most mothers, Jack’s mother didn’t write her recipes down – why bother if they are normally passed down from generation to generation? And, when she explained the dishes to her sons, she did it as every mother would do. An essential ingredient was forgotten, directions would range from “let a cook for little while, but be careful not to overcook” to a whole time mother classic “add a little bit just like that” or failing to mention the little detail which would have avoided to set the kitchen on fire. Jack and his brother are trying to recover the recipes slowly but surely. and this Moroccan feast is the result of it. The most curious of all was the sudden realization that Jack and I might actually be related. Both our families are of Jewish extraction. Mine became Roman Catholic to escape the Spanish Inquisition. His, most likely fled to Morocco around the same time…
Religion and familiar disputes apart, this spicy carrot and fennel salad was one of the heroes of the day. It is not so straightforward as it might seem and it has a long list of spices, herbs and condiments. The result is totally worthwhile the effort – a fresh and crunchy dish with bold flavors. The type of thing which made K. lose her normal calm-cool-collected state to fight for the last bit (She won. I still have a black eye…).
If you are about my age, and studied organic chemistry, there is a very big chance one of your lab practices was the synthesis of anisaldehyde, a chemical compound which is found in anise, tastes like licorice and smells of sweet almonds. I don’t recall it as being excessively difficult, but what made this lab memorable was the strong aniseed smell of the whole experiment. It was like a haze that would stay with you for a couple of days, and sort of thing that would put you off of anything that might resemble it. For example, licorice, almond oil or even amarguinha, a Portuguese almond liqueur. Later, in my short (but intense) academic career, I ended up using anysaldehyde in my experiments for a good 4 years. It still smelled the same, and it still would give me headaches.
Needless is to say, my motivation for using anything that might be slightly aniseed was almost non existing. But, one day I took a picked a bit fennel salad in a buffet. And, much to my surprise, it tasted good. It was crunchy, fresh and it had a slight taste of anise, that just made it a bit more interesting. A vegetable you could see in a salad during Summer, or in a more autumnal roast. Or, all year round paired with fish – a combination of flavors made in heaven.
Baked salmon with fennel and tomatoes
- 2 medium fennel bulbs
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- zest and juice 1 lemon
- 175g cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 salmon fillets , about 175g each
- few black olives (optional)
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Trim the fronds from the fennel and set aside. Cut the fennel bulbs in half, then cut each half into 3 wedges. Cook in boiling salted water for 10 mins, then drain well. Chop the fennel fronds roughly, then mix with the parsley and lemon zest.
Spread the drained fennel over a shallow oven proof dish, then add the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, then bake for 10 mins. Nestle the salmon among the veg, sprinkle with lemon juice, then bake 15 mins more until the fish is just cooked. Scatter over the parsley and serve.