Thursday, July 15, 2010

Warm Food

I'd be exaggerating if I called this an inspired seasonal recipe using vegetables that go wonderfully together and are likely to come in your farmshare box this month.

Actually, what happened is that I wanted to do something with the fennel other than cut it up and serve it over salad. Fennel is seasonal right now. It came in our box this week, and I like it, but I've never actually tried to cook it before.

So I browsed through some of my cookbooks and found a recipe that sounded great, for braised fennel and celeriac. Celeriac, or celery root, is not at all seasonal right now. It's a late fall root vegetable that stores well over the winter in a root cellar.

Well, my squirrel tendencies and our winter storage share came to the rescue - I was saving that last celeriac, the last item remaining item from our winter share, in the vegetable drawer. I kept telling myself that it was small and I'd work on using it up when we seemed like we might run of room to put away the share one of these weeks.

So I was able to combine celeriac and fennel in this recipe, adapted from Claudia Roden's Book of Jewish Food. Sometimes, things that aren't in season together and seem to have very different styles make a surprisingly wonderful pairing!

Braised Celery and Fennel with Lemon

3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp light vegetable oil
1 small celeriac, about 1/2 lb, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
1 medium fennel head, cut in half, then in thick slices
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar
Salt and black pepper

In a wide pan with a cover, fry the garlic in the oil till lightly colored. Add the celeriac and fennel, and add water to barely cover. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and a little salt and pepper, and simmer with the lid on, stirring occasionally, for 1/2 hour. Then take the lid off, increase the heat and reduce the liquid to a thick sauce.

You could serve this as a cold salad mixed with parsley, but since it was wet and rainy and we felt like warm food, we served it warm, over some quinoa that I cooked in the rice cooker with 3 parts water and 1 part pineapple juice. The slight sweetness that the juice added to the quinoa was just right with the celeriac and fennel over the top.

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