Tuesday 5 March 2013

Fennel and Beets

This started as a main course for our first 'proper' vegetarian dinner. Now I've reworked it as a starter. I forgot to take a photo first time out so here it is, naked, before I dress it with a circle of puff pastry. This is simply four fennel bulbs quartered lengthways, roasted for 20 mins at 180°C with some olive oil and balsamic. After making a caramel I also add some seasoning: parmesan, coriander seed, thyme and bake for 30 mins until  the pastry's well risen.

You can use a frying pan or a proper tart tatin tin (so much fun to say that). I have both but I find the frying pan easier to manipulate.

I serve this with beetroot puree. Roast a bunch of beets for an hour at 180°C. Put the warm bulbs in a plastic bag and seal. This helps with the peeling. Peeling beetroot really sucks. You end up looking like a serial killer but it's worth it for the colour. Purée the peeled beets in a blender then pass it through a tamis (or any other sieve but a tamis makes the job much easier). Finally I add some butter (OK, lots), pepper, salt, lime juice and ground coriander.

This is after the blender but before the tamis.

For meat eaters, I garnish the dish with very crisp, very thin pancetta. For vegetarians I use deep fried basil leaves, something I should use more.

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