Learning to love fennel

D likes to tease me, that I am an odd kind of vegetarian who dislikes vegetables: I’m a fishy veggie actually. His is a gross exaggeration, there are only a few vegetables I don’t like and fennel was one. Was, not is. Everything changed when we chose a different flight time from Gatwick to Malaga and ended up eating lunch at the airport rather than breakfast. At Jamie’s Italian, at Gatwick North, I had a bit of a brainstorm and ordered fennel and orange salad. I can only put this down to the fact that it was a hot day, I wasn’t hungry, and I wanted something light and easy. learning to love fennel - fennel and orange salad - chopping 4-8-13Now, thanks to Jamie, I love fennel. The one problem here is that our local supermarket Mercadona does not sell anything so exotic. We’ve tried digging up the wild plants here and the bulbs are not the same. But we have discovered we can buy it on the coast, so on our rare visits to Malaga or Marbella we go to Hipercor, the food hall in the basement of El Corte Inglés, and stock up. Thankfully it keeps well in the fridge. learning to love fennel - fennel and orange salad - plateful 5-8-13This is my slight adaptation of Jamie’s salad. The one I ate at Gatwick had pea shoots, that is a step too far for Mercadona but instead I added toasted pine nuts. We’ve eaten this salad either as an accompaniment for pan-fried salmon, or on its own on a boiling hot evening when you really don’t want to eat anything at all: it tastes so fresh it startles your tastebuds to life.
This makes a large salad for two people
1 large orange
1 fennel bulb
1 sweet Spanish onion
Handful of parsley, washed dried and roughly chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice
Toasted pine nuts
Peel and thinly slice the onion, pour over the lemon juice. Thinly slice the fennel and add to the onion. Peel the orange, and cut out the segments leaving behind any white pitch. Add all orange juice to the marinating salad. Toss together and add 1-2 tbsp olive oil, the best you have.
Before serving, add the freshly toasted pine nuts and sprinkle with parsley.
5 to remember
el hinojo – fennel
un gajo – a segment of citrus fruit
el/la vegetariano/a – vegetarian person
el sótano – basement
la adaptación – adaptation

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