Saturday, December 3, 2011
green bean, fennel and pickled red onion salad/caramelized fennel and onions
I am kind of excited to tell you about these two dishes. They both fit right in with the type of cooking that I usually do, but were still somehow refreshingly different from my everyday meals. First is the Smitten Kitchen's green bean fennel and pickled red onion salad, which I made because I had a ton of food co-op green beans. Then, I jumped at the chance to use up the rest of the fennel, caramelized with onions, in this recipe from Simply Recipes.
Green beans are not really my favorite vegetable. They were one of my mom's go-to side dishes when I was growing up, and I was never too excited when they were on the table. They usually showed up one of three ways: steamed with almonds and maybe some lemon, stir-fried Chinese style, or just raw, because I kind of felt they were sweeter and more palatable that way. Like I said, I am not a huge green bean fan.
This recipe appealed to me because the beans are only quickly boiled, and a coupled with crunchy raw fennel and celery, both thinly sliced (I might add that a mandolin comes in really helpful with all that). It compared favorably to the raw green beans I ate as a kid; kind similar, but definitely a more flavorful, complete dish. Dressed in a vinaigrette and topped with electric pink pickled red onions, it was really bright and fresh and tasty. The tangy onions added a nice salty kick, and the raw fennel was unexpectedly delicious. It also has the classic addition of toasted almonds, which always helps perk up green beans. All in all, it was a cool recipe that I'm happy to have discovered.
The salad called for only half of a fennel bulb, so I took the rest and made a scaled down recipe for caramelized onions and fennel. As you might except, this really brought out the sweetness of both vegetables, and the twin additions of lemon zest and grated parmesan cheese rounded everything out with so much needed saltiness and acidity. I have come to really like fennel, and this simple preparation just might be my favorite yet.
As an experiment, I'm going to try including full recipes, which I have previously avoided doing mainly because I am lazy. So without further ado...
Green Bean, Fennel and Celery Salad with Pickled Red Onions and Toasted Almonds
adapted from The Smitten Kitchen
1 lb green beans, ends trimmed off
½ fennel bulb (about ½ pound) very thinly sliced
1 stalk celery very thinly sliced
½ medium red onion, very thinly sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tbsp kosher salt
1½ tsp sugar
⅓ cup whole almonds
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil
Toss together fennel and lemon juice. This tastes good and also keeps the fennel from turning brown. In a separate bowl, mix the vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Add the onions, which should sit and pickle for 30 minutes to an hour. This can also be done a day or two beforehand if you like.
Boil your green beans about 4 to 5 minutes. They should still be fairly bright green and crisp.
Toast the almonds in olive oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes, making sure to toss them around to prevent them from burning. Once they are lightly browned, season with salt and pepper and then let them cool and cut each almond in half.
Toss the green beans, fennel, and celery with half of the pickled red onions and a couple of tablespoons of the pickling liquid and olive oil. Season to taste, and consider adding more of the pickled onions and juices.
Caramelized Fennel and Onions Recipe
adapted from Simply Recipes
2 onions, halved and sliced into ¼-inch thick wedges
2 fennel bulbs, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
¼ cup grated parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter, then add fennel and onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook for ten minutes over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Lower the temperature to medium and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour, continuing to stir. Keep careful watch on the temperature to make sure that the vegetables are caramelizing and browning, but not burning, and scraping up and browned bits that are sticking to the pan. When cooked to your liking, remove from heat and toss in the cheese, the chopped parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. If your fennel had those little feathery tops you can also chop those up and add that too, like I did. Serve and enjoy!