And so, just like that, 2014 is here. Is it just me or does it sound very sci-fi to you? Anyway, I hope it’s started out really well for everyone with good company, good food and plenty of good cheer.
I was fortunate to see in the New Year at my lovely friends’ place in Augusta, Western Australia. As usual I was spoilt by their friendship, delicious food and superior taste in wine. Thank you my friends!
The rest of the time I spent in Perth, soaking up the blue skies, sunshine and swimming in the gorgeous Indian Ocean. It was a lovely trip home, and was wonderful to spend time with friends and family … and bask in my happy temperature of 30+ degrees Celsius.
Like many of us fortunate people, my table groaned with food and my glass overflowed with wine, so it’s been nice to take a week to settle back into work and eat quite simply. I’ve found that the below salad, while very easy to make, will satisfy post-Christmas tastebuds with its fresh and tangy flavours, but won’t leave that dull, heavy feeling of too much food. Perfect!
And as Melbourne didn’t continue with the warmth I was enjoying so much, I roasted the fennel. But if you can’t face turning on the stove, you can make the below salad with finely sliced raw fennel, leaving the salad to sit for around 25 minutes for the dressing to slightly ‘cook’ the fennel. It has a lovely fresh taste but with slightly less complexity.
roasted fennel salad and orange salad
8 baby fennel bulbs (or 2 large)
1 red onion, halved and finely sliced
100g kalamata or wild olives
2 tbsp mint, roughly chopped
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
- Remove the stalks from the fennel and slice a thin sliver off the hard base. Reserve some of the fronds if there are some. Slice each baby fennel into 6 wedges. If your fennel is large, cut in half, then quarters, then cut into around 3-6 wedges, depending on its size.
- In a bowl, toss the wedges in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and transfer to a baking tray. Bake for around 45 minutes, or until the fennel is tender and slightly caramelised, turning once or twice in the process. Allow to cool.
- While the fennel is roasting, cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of each orange, then slice off the skin and pith.
- Over a bowl to catch the juices, slice down the side of each segment between the flesh and the membrane. Repeat with the other side and lift the segment out – it doesn’t matter if the orange pieces break up slightly. Do this with the rest of the orange until you just have a membrane left. Squeeze out any excess juice and discard. Repeat with the second orange.
- Add the lemon juice to the bowl that captured the orange juice and whisk in 2 tablespoons of oil. Season well.
- Combine the orange segments, onion and olives in a bowl, pour half of the dressing over it and add half of the mint. Mix well and leave to sit.
- If you’re using raw fennel, add it now and pour all of the dressing over the salad. Once you’re ready to serve it, sprinkle with the remaining mint and parsley and you’re ready to go.
- Once the fennel is cooked and cooled, transfer the orange mix to a serving dish.
- Top with the roasted fennel, drizzle with the remaining dressing and scatter the remaining mint and parsley.
- Chop the reserved fronds and sprinkle a few pinches over the salad (optional).