Sunday, August 16, 2020

Rosie Makes A Fennel Salad.

I'm always on the lookout for something different -
different flavors, different textures, 
and different foods - particularly under-utilized vegetables.
And I've got something unique for you today.
It's a fennel dish.
It can be used as a side dish to complement your meal
or as an appetizer with tortilla chips.
Either way, you're going to enjoy this.

Fennel,  in case you're unfamiliar with it,
is a member of the carrot family, 
although it's not a root vegetable.
It grows above ground and the edible parts
are the bulb, the stalks, and the feathery leaves.
(I'll be using all three in this dish.)
It has a mild anise flavor, which I like,
even though I'm not a fan of licorice.

Fennel Salad
2-3 stalks fennel, with bulb, sliced
1 cup dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/2 cup dried quinoa
zest of one lemon
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped
1 TB chopped fennel fronds
2 TB chopped parsley
1 TB chopped oregano (I used fresh. 1 tsp if using dried)
1 TB chopped mint
1/3 cup diced feta cheese
1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
Vinaigrette, recipe follows

For the salad:
In medium saucepan, cook garbanzo beans in salted water to cover, over medium heat, until al dente.  No need to soak the beans overnight.  I never bother with soaking.  If you want them to cook quicker, add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water.  The change in pH breaks (more alkaline) breaks down the pectin, causing the beans to soften more rapidly.  By the way, the baking soda trick will work with all types of dried beans.  When the beans have reached the texture you like, drain and rinse them.  As a rule, 1 part dried beans will equal 2 parts cooked beans.

For the quinoa, cook in salted water.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until quinoa is tender and a white "tail" appears - about 15 minutes.  Drain off any excess water and fluff with a fork.   1 part dried quinoa equals about 2 parts cooked.  Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), by the way, is a grain crop grown for its edible seeds and has been cultivated by the Incans for thousands of years.  It has a slightly nutty flavor and is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.

 Sauté the fennel in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add in the chopped red onion and cook for another minute.  Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

After the garbanzo beans, quinoa, fennel, and onion have cooled, combine all together.  Add remaining ingredients, then pour vinaigrette over mixture and toss to combine.

1 garlic clove, minced
2 TB Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Slowly whisk olive oil into vinegar and garlic until you have a nice smooth emulsion.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Always use a good quality vinegar and olive oil.  Taste test if possible before buying, which is why I buy my vinegars at either Outer Banks Olive Oil Company at MP 6 or Ella's Olive Oil in Duck.  For this vinaigrette, I used OB Olive Oil's traditional balsamic vinegar and Corto extra virgin olive oil which I get from Amazon.

Toss salad with vinaigrette to coat evenly.
Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors meld.

Garbanzo beans and quinoa
Feta cheese
Kalamata olives
Parsley, mint, oregano, fennel fronds

Sauté the fennel in olive oil for about 2 minutes.
Medium heat.

Add in onion and sauté for another minute.

Let cool.

Cooked and cooled garbanzo beans and quinoa.

Add in lemon zest.

Add fennel and onion.

Tomato in.
Peel your tomato, then slice in half.
Stick fingers in pockets and squeeze to juice and seed.
Then chop.

Fresh herbs:
Parsley, mint, oregano, fennel frond.

Add in herbs.


Diced feta and slice Kalamata olives.

Add in feta and olives.

Toss to combine.

Drizzle in vinaigrette.
Mix well.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

This is one of those dishes with so many flavors and textures
that I want everything in my mouth at one time.
I can be piggish that way.

Excellent as a side dish.
And works admirably as an appetizer.
Try scooping with tortilla chips.


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