Fennel with anchovy and herbs oil
So after a couple of sweet and lushious desserts, here's one of the ideas that "back to basics" is also based on: following the seasons!
This is actually a personal challenge for me. I'm in my early 30's, i belong to the "supermarket" generation, where everything is miraculously available all year thru. Now, i know that having strawberries in december is not right, that summer comes with tomatoes and cabage is in the winter, but beside that...
If you give it a thought, nature does make it in a smart way: with all the delicious and tasty sweet fruits in the summer, aswell as lighter vegetables, that we can enjoy under the sun. And on the other hand, more conforting food in the winter, to keep us warm with turnip or pumpkin soup, or give us energy with oranges.
Not to mention, you are going to enjoy a fruit or vegetable at it's best, not some tasteless strawberries that flew from a distant land, with a carbon footprint we don't want to leave.
We don't need to have everything all the time. There is pleasure in longing and following the rythm of seasons. I believe it's better for us, aswell as for the planet.
So if you have the chance to have a farmers market near you, i could only advice you to go and check it out, see what's on the stands, ask the farmers if you have a doubt about something. I think just seeing the fruits and vegetables is inspiring, it makes you want to try things out.
So this recipe has only little ingredients but is delicious, it's based on fennel, that you should have now, because the month of may is the end of it's season.
Fennel with anchovy and herbs oil (adapted from a recipe found on http://www.altergusto.fr/ )
1 bulb of fennel
1 table spoon of nuts
1 garlic clove
2 anchovies from a tin (preserved in oil)
1 branch of rosmarin
3-4 tablespoon of olive oil
1 branch of (possibly) fresh thym
1-2 tablespoon of black olive (pitted is easier)
Heat your oven to 180°C
Clean the fennel, cut it in two, lenghtways, and each half in two again. Cut the base off, aswell as the white part attached to it. Spread them out on a roasting tin, put some pepper, salt and olive oil on top, cover them with an alumunium foil to go into the oven for about 1 hour, to 1 hour 30 minutes depending on the size of the fennel. Use a knife, it should pass thru the vegetable easily when it's done.
In the meantime, roast the nuts in a pan with no fat. When the skin is cracking, put them on one half of a towel, fold the other half on it, and rub the nuts into the towel to peel the skin off. You can do it between you hands, but be carefull it's hot!
If you have a mezzaluna with an adapted cutting board, put the roasted nuts on it and chop them into small pieces. Put that in a mortal, then chop the rosmarin with the mezzaluna and add it to the nuts.
Press the garlic into the mortal, cut the anchovy in a few pieces and add it to the rest. Now try to mix everything into a paste inside the mortal, when you think it's fine enough for your taste add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil and mix.
When the fennel is cooked, spread the anchovy and herbs oil on it, put some fresh thym, and the black olives that are chopped into cubes. Voilà!
This can be served as a side dish, but i like it on it's own. You can change the nuts to walnuts or pin nuts, the anchovy can be replace with fish sauce, and for the herbs, anything you like could do the trick.