Sunday, January 8, 2017

Jeweled Fennel and Orange Salad

This is an appeal for the sake of my friend, the Fennel. I feel the need to glorify her (fennel look female, right?) because in my humble opinion she does not get enough attention from the home cook. Here in Israel, especially abundant in winter, you can find her under the name "shamir" where she sits neglected in the supermarket bin waiting for her time to shine. To add to her misery, she is usually tragically shorn of her pretty fronds. The fronds are the leaves of the fennel that resemble dill and taste like the bulb itself but a little more fragrant. I always get a kick out of the fronds which sit atop the bulb looking like it just came back from an Israeli hair salon (if you've been you know what I mean) or like Edward Scissor-hands got a little too close. Fennel to me tastes like a cross between black licorice and celery (ok,  I can understand a little how that description would keep you away) with a very mild taste and it is delightfully crunchy and refreshing. It is good raw, roasted or grilled and really adds great flavor to salads. Fennel and orange are a great match and in this simple and beautiful salad its flavor is highlighted by the citrus dressing and orange segments while pomegranate seeds add crunch, tartness, and of course beauty. Enjoy!

3 bulbs fennel, cleaned and sliced thin
1 large orange, segmented, reserve the juice
1/3 cup  pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries in a pinch a.k.a, the jewels
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fresh chopped mint

3 Tablespoons reserved orange juice (or use bottled 100% orange juice)
2 Tablespoons chardonnay vinegar (substitute with white wine vinegar if needed)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup, agave, or honey
salt and pepper to taste

Arrange the salad ingredients in a bowl or pretty platter, whisk the dressing, pour over the salad and serve.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower, Zuchinni, and Dill Soup

I had one too many latkes this Chanukah and now I am trying my hardest to get back on track so the hubby and I are doing another round of Whole30 to detox. If you aren't familiar with the Whole30 plan, its basically a detox plan where you pretty much cut out all carbs for 30 days.
Yikes! But we've done it before and we are committed to doing it again.
One of the hardest parts of eating healthy is how much prep it takes- there is no such thing as grabbing a sandwich, making a quick bowl of pasta etc- every meal requires lots of chopping, washing, and planning- so making a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week and having it to help supplement meals is super helpful. My goal with this soup was to make it as flavorful as possible without using stock (my usual go to) which I didn't have around or soup mix (a big no-no)-just plain, old water. To that end, I tried to build flavor by roasting the cauliflower and zucchini first with cloves of garlic, using celery root instead of celery for creaminess and a more mellow and pronounced celery flavor, and lots of dill. The soup turned out better than I could have ever expected! Silky, smooth, with a pronounced cauliflower and dill flavor and undertones of roasted garlic that was just right. This soup was a huge hit and we have been licking our bowls every night- even my two year old devoured it! Best part about it is that it's full of vegetables with absolutely nothing that's bad for you. Success in a bowl! Enjoy!

1.6 kilo/ 3.5 pounds (around two medium heads) cauliflower, broken into florets
1.2 kilo/2.5 pounds (about two large) zucchini, cut into chunks
4 large cloves of garlic
6 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 medium celery root, peeled, and diced- in a pinch you can use two large stalks of celery sliced but I highly recommend using celery root.
1 medium starchy potato (that's a red potato in Israel, a Yukon in America), peeled and chunked
1 cup fresh chopped dill, divided
12 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375F. Place the cauliflower, zucchini, and garlic cloves on a sheet tray, drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast for about 35-40 minutes or until the cauliflower and zucchini are nicely roasted, you want the cauliflower to have the crispy brown edges.
In a pot, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onion, carrot, and celery root. Season with salt and pepper and saute well until the onion is translucent about 5-7 minutes over medium heat.  Add in the roasted vegetables taking care to remove the skin from the garlic cloves first. Add the water, the potato, and 1/2 cup of the dill and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and cook for about 35 minutes until the potato is soft and everything is starting to dissolve. Add the rest of the dill and blend it all with an immersion blender until smooth.