People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
02/23/2004 Fennel and red onion salad with dried figs(Salade de fenouil, d'oignon rouge, et de figues sèches)
For 4 servings:
2-3 heads of fresh fennel 1 medium red onion 4 dried black figs Snippets of fennel leaves or chopped chervil
5 T. extra virgin olive oil (choose a buttery golden oil from south of France if possible) 1 t. fennel seed plus a couple of stalks of dried wild fennel if available 2 T. fig or balsamic vinegar Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the fennel bulbs in half and core them. Slice them crosswise as finely as possible.
Cut the onion in half and slice as finely as possible. If you have a mandoline, use it to do the slicing of the vegetables.
Put the sliced onion in a bowl and cover with cold water. Drain after 5 or 10 minutes and pat dry with paper towels.
Slice the dried figs in carpaccio (very thin slices) if possible, or dice.
Make the vinaigrette: Put the fennel seeds and stalks (if using) in a small saucepan. Add the olive oil and heat gently over medium heat. When the seeds start to dance in the oil, cook 1 minute, then remove from heat and allow to infuse at least 1 hour. Strain into a small bowl. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Toss all the ingredients. In fresh fig season, each serving may be garnished with a fresh fig cut open like a flower. Fantastic with hot toasts with melted goat cheese, and dramatically beautiful with the pale green fennel complemented by the plummy notes of the dark figs and the purple onion edges. Hint: this salad is delicious as leftovers the next day.