Have fun with fennel

It’s time to celebrate the arrival of our prettiest season and treat yourself to a bite of spring.

By NERIA BARR
May 19, 2013 15:38
4 minute read.
Fennel, celery and sardine salad

Fennel, celery and sardine salad. (photo credit: Ben Uster)

This week’s flavor is fennel, and young chef Itzik Asulin of the Italian trattoria Lulu Kitchen and Bar in Neveh Tzedek suggests using this aromatic vegetable to add freshness and flavor to a light seasonal supper.

Fennel gazpach
Serves 2

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✔ 3 tomatoes
✔ 1 fennel, halved
✔ 1 red pepper
✔ 1 yellow pepper
✔ 2 garlic cloves
✔ 1 cup tomato juice
✔ A few drops hot chili sauce
 ✔ 1 tsp. paprika
✔ Juice of 3 lemons
✔ ⅓ cup olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper

Roast the tomatoes and peppers on a barbecue or under a grill until the skin scorches.

Place the peppers while hot in a plastic bag and close tightly. Let the steam release the skins. When cooled, peel the peppers and remove the seeds. Peel tomatoes if you wish. Grind the peppers and tomatoes in a food processor, add the fennel and the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with croutons or dark bread.

Note: If serving in a dairy meal, add 1 Tbsp. sour cream in the middle of each plate.

Fennel, celery and sardine salad
Serves 2

✔ 2 fennel bulbs
✔ 2 celery stalks
✔ 1 green apple
✔ Handful arugula leaves
✔ A few fresh basil leaves
✔ 5 uncooked sardines, filleted
✔ Coarse salt

For the vinaigrette dressing:
✔ 1 Tbsp. smooth Dijon mustard
✔ ⅓ cup silan
✔ 100 ml. wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
✔ 100 ml. water
✔ A few fresh mint leaves
✔ 200 ml. canola oil
✔ 100 ml. olive oil

Arrange the sardine fillets, skin side down, and sprinkle coarse salt on them. Drizzle the fillets with lemon juice and olive oil.

To prepare vinaigrette: Place all the ingredients except oils in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Keep the motor on and drizzle the oils slowly into the mixture.

Slice the fennel, apple and celery into thin strips, place in a salad bowl, and add the arugula leaves. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss. Place five fillets on top and garnish with basil leaves.

Ceviche salmon on a bed of tzatziki
Serves 2

For the ceviche:
✔ 150 gr. salmon, cubed
✔ ½ cup green onion, chopped
✔ 1 stalk celery, chopped
✔ Lemon juice
✔ Olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper

For the tzatziki:
✔ 1 cup yogurt
✔ 1 fennel, finely chopped
✔ ½ cup dill, chopped
✔ ½ tsp. minced garlic
✔ Salt and pepper

Garnish:
✔ Red chili Mix together all the ceviche ingredients in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together all the tzatziki ingredients.

To serve: Fill two martini glasses half full with the tzatziki, and top with the ceviche.

Garnish with red chili slices.

Grouper (locus) with fennel and green beans
Serves 2

✔ 400 gr. fillet of grouper, halved
✔ 2 fennel bulbs, sliced into thin strips
✔ 1 cup green beans
✔ 1 tsp. minced garlic
✔ ¼ cup white wine
✔ ⅓ cup water
✔ 50 gr. butter, cut into cubes (may use margarine)
✔ Salt and white pepper

Heat an oven to 200°.

Season the fish with salt. Heat a nonstick skillet with a little oil, and place the fish skin side down. Sauté until skin is crisp.

Remove fish from skillet and place in a buttered baking dish, skin side up. Bake for 4-5 minutes.

Boil water in a pot, add salt and blanch the beans in the boiling water for 2 minutes.

Remove and place in a bowl with ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.

Heat a skillet with a little oil, add the fennel strips and drained beans and sauté until fennel begins to soften. Add garlic, white wine and water and cook over high heat. Start adding the butter cubes one at a time and continue cooking until sauce thickens. Season with salt and white pepper.

Arrange the vegetables on each plate and place the fish on top.

Lemon chicken with fennel and potatoes
Serves 2

✔ 6 chicken thighs
✔ 2 fennel bulbs, quartered
✔ 2 potatoes, quartered
✔ 1 onion, sliced
✔ 1 tsp. minced garlic
✔ ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
✔ ½ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
✔ ½ cup chopped green onion
✔ ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
✔ 2 sprigs thyme
✔ Salt, white pepper, cumin, turmeric, baharat – to taste

Heat a wide nonstick pot with a lid, add a little oil and fry the chicken on all sides until golden.

Add onion, fennel and garlic and continue sautéing for 2 more minutes. Add lemon juice and enough water to cover. Add the herbs and potatoes. Season to taste and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue cooking over high heat another 10 minutes to reduce the liquids. Taste and adjust seasoning (add salt if necessary).

Note: You may omit the potatoes and serve with rice or couscous.


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