Out of habit I always like to have a something on a screen nearby. It’s almost like a comfort blanket. Some people always have music on, I can’t bear looking at a matte black monitor. It’s usually tennis or some crappy reality show like Kitchen Nightmares or The Voice but having a VPN means that I’m also privy to some great shows not available on YouTube.
This weekend I stumbled upon Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feast, produced for Channel 4 in the UK. I’ve heard the name Ottolenghi through the grapevine and also whilst searching for cookbooks, his Jerusalem being perhaps the most lauded cookbook in 2012. I consider myself pretty well versed in celebrity chefdom, I’ve watched everything from Bourdain, to Huey (Aussies will know who I’m talking about) and yes even dabbled in a bit of infamous Guy Fieri. But Yotam Ottolenghi has flown under the radar….till now.
I’ve taken an instant liking to Yotam! His style with salads and vegetables are right up my alley. It’s not hard to see why he has a cult following. Sometimes I find chefs try a little too hard to compensate with salads, a bit too much olive oil and cheese really. Not that I don’t love both. But Ottolenghi seems to treat it like meat in a way, simple mixes of spices, colour and flavour. I hope he makes more TV because he’s interminably watchable and endearingly dorky.
This is my take on his Quinoa, Fennel & Pomegranate salad from Bon Appetite . I had some red quinoa leftover and fennel is cheap and in season now, so this will be lunch this week. I’m not a huge fan of the crunchy aniseediness of raw fennel, however caramelised in a pan until soft and it becomes a moreish vessel of sweet succulence…oh…yeaaaah… the fennel is the real star of this dish, and therefore deserves the top billing.
FENNEL, QUINOA & POMEGRANATE SALAD
Enough for 4 mains.
2 bulbs medium-large Fennel
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup of red quinoa
water or stock to cook quinoa (I used chicken)
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1.5 teaspoons sugar
1 jalepeno or mild chilli
handful of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
handful of chopped fresh mint
couple of sprigs of fresh dill
handful of pomegranate seeds
Cut the fennel into thick slices (around 1cm), add the olive oil to a sauté pan, throw in the fennel, season with salt & pepper, saute on both sides until golden brown and soft. Combine, lemon juice, vinegar, cumin & sugar. Add to fennel and cook for another minute. Set aside.
Rinse Quinoa thoroughly, then with 2 cups of water/stock, bring to boil in saucepan, turn heat down and simmer for 10-15min or until quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid. Cover and let sit for 5-10min.
Segment the flesh from the lemon, finely chop the chilli, roughly chop the herbs.
Combine the whole shemozzle together with the pomergranate seeds, adding salt & pepper and more oil to taste.