Roasted and raw fennel salad with blood orange and bottarga
Serves 4 to 6 as a side
- 4 large fennel bulbs, stalks and outermost layer discarded, tender fronds reserved, root end trimmed of brown bits
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed in a mortar
- 3 dried pequin chillies, crumbled, or pinches of red pepper flakes
- 55ml plus 2tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½tsp Maldon or other flaky sea salt
- 4 blood oranges
- 1tbs lemon juice
- Several turns of freshly ground black pepper
- A handful of delicate, peppery rocket
- 50g unsalted roasted pistachios, very coarsely crushed
- 1tsp fennel pollen
- 1oz bottarga di muggine (salted mullet roe), finely grated
Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 230°C.
Halve two of the fennel bulbs through the root end, then cut them through the root nub (so each wedge stays intact) into approximately 2.5cm thick wedges. Combine the wedges in a mixing bowl with the garlic, fennel seeds, chillies, 55ml of the oil, half a teaspoon of the salt and 55ml of water, and toss well.
Spread the mixture in a heavy enamelled baking dish (large enough to hold the fennel in a single layer with a little room to spare) and cover tightly with foil. Roast the fennel until it is tender (it should meet with almost no resistance when poked with a knife) and golden brown on the bottom – 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and roast just until the golden brown colour gets a shade or so darker, three to five minutes more. Let the fennel cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, halve one of the oranges and squeeze three tablespoons of juice into a small bowl. Use a sharp knife to cut off just enough of the top and bottom of the remaining oranges to expose a full circle of the flesh on either side.
Stand them on a flat end, and cut along the border where the flesh meets the pith, following the curve of the fruit to remove the pith and peel. Repeat until all you have left are nice round, naked fruits. If you’ve missed any white pith, trim it off. Slice the fruit crosswise into 0.5cm thick rounds. Flick out any seeds.
To the blood orange juice in the bowl, whisk in the lemon juice, the pepper, the remaining two tablespoons of oil, and one teaspoon of salt.
Slice the remaining two fennel bulbs crosswise into 0.5cm thick slices and separate the layers with your fingers. Toss the raw fennel, roasted fennel (and any oil and browned bits left in the pan), and dressing in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to give it all a gentle scrunch – just to help the flavours come together.
Very coarsely chop enough of the reserved fennel fronds to give you a handful. Add the fronds, rocket and pistachios to the bowl and toss again.
Spoon some of the fennel mixture onto a platter, arrange some blood orange slices here and there, then add another layer of fennel and oranges. Sprinkle
on the fennel pollen, bottarga and, if you’d like, a healthy pinch of salt. Serve straightaway.
Recipe taken from A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield.
Photography by David Loftus