Thursday, June 21, 2007

Heart of the Matter Offering........."Fennel Beetroot Salad"

Let's see if I can actually get this post done correctly today. I inadvertently posted the pictures before I was ready. So take two.
I am finally making my first addition of a recipe on my observations and celebration of all things Val Chisone and Italy in general from my beautiful view at our mountain "baita." I have been encouraged, asked, inspired and very resistant to doing just that for a variety of reasons. First, my "tesoro" also known as my "marito", is of the Italian mentality that if we share our recipes no one will come for our cooking classes, but I say a recipe is a recipe and only as good as the cook. Taking a cooking seminar can bring it all to life and there's nothing like a bit of hands on guidance to build confidence in a sociable atmosphere, but I digress.
My main reason for not wanting to become a food blogger was that there are so many others out there doing such a fantastic job, and I am not good about defining my cuisine in a staid recipe. I love cookbooks, well written recipes, inspiring photography, and informative and personal stories surrounding food, but being defined by a recipe I find daunting(or maybe it's just being defined). I have always used recipes as a basic framework from which to either follow them to a tee or to make as many different variations. as suits me. Having lived in different countries, altitudes and settings for wild variations in numbers of people to prepare for, I find it challenging to define which measurements to use as I know many of you out there use different measurements also. I'm a wing it kind of cook most times. So I will try to be consistent in my use of measurements, but bear with me if I mix my measurements. Feel free to adjust everything to your taste, as I'm sure you will and we'll see how this goes. I didn't start a blog to become a food blogger, in fact I didn't even know what that was till I stumbled upon Cream Puffs in Venice and Lucullian Delights last year in my search for a recipe and started to discover all the interesting people out there going on and on about food and everything else too. Ilva of Lucullian Delights has been co hosting an event called "The Heart of the Matter" started by both Ilva and Joanna of Joanna's Foods . Back in January I dared myself to 5 things to accomplish this year. So with this humble but refreshing Fennel Beetroot Salad recipe, I am accomplishing a few things on my "to do list". I hope you will enjoy it and make it with many variations. I started this salad out with fennel and orange, then it was fennel and apple and then I got around to the addition of the smoky roasted beets that are found in abundance in our markets, especially in the autumn, but make their reappearance in the spring as well. Balsamic vinegar is a wonderful flavor, but will darken the fennel even more than the addition of the beets, so if you prefer a less muddied look to the salad you might want to use a light colored vinegar. Mint isn't every ones favorite, but I think it adds a nice perk to the salad in moderation, but is just fine with the parsley only. So enjoy, and know that this salad is not only tasty but a heart healthy addition to your meal.

Fennel Beetroot Salad

½-1-fennel bulb
1 large or 2 medium, beetroots, roasted or boiled till soft, peeled
2 oranges, red or blood oranges as they are called in the US

Vinaigrette
I use about a 1/1 oil vinegar mix and tame the tartness with about
2 times as much fruit juice, so you can adjust your measurement to your taste.
¼ cup olive oil, a fruity flavorful one is best
¼ cup balsamic or herbal vinegar
½ cup orange, apple or apricot juice
4 Tb mint, chopped (optional) and/or
4 Tb flat parsley, chopped
Salt to taste

Method
➢ Cut the fennel bulb down the middle from top to bottom.
➢ Using a slicer or mandolin if you have one
If not, slice the fennel as thinly as you are able with a knife starting from the base end.
➢ Slice the beets into thick rounds and then into long matchsticks, depending on the size of the beets.
➢ Cut the peel and white lining from the oranges with a knife, leaving an intact orange.
➢ Cut each segment free from the inner skin until you have all the all the segments and give your left over skin a squeeze to retain all the fruit juice.
➢ Whisk all your vinaigrette ingredients together.
➢ Pour over the fennel and mix thoroughly to coat all.
➢ Add the beets and oranges and gently mix.
➢ Let the salad mixture sit for at least ½ hour to allow the flavors to infuse the vegetables. Serve cold or room temperature.
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