As a way of getting plenty of energy into our bodies before Sweden’s football game against England the other night I cooked up a quick but tasty dinner. Unfortunately we lost the game but I still think that we put up a good fight and at least it kept me sitting at the edge of the sofa for a few hours.
Anyway enough about football and more food talk. So this is what we got to enjoy for dinner, a warm fennel salad as a starter, followed by garlicky polenta served with fresh vegetables. The evening sun even made it possible to eat outside without too many sweaters on!
Warm fennel salad with Chèvre chaud
This is a tasty salad with many lush flavors that works as a whole dish or as a starter which was our approach this time.
Green leaves (arugula, spinach or what ever you can find)
Crumbly goat cheese
100 ml balsamic vinegar
Salt (preferably Himalayan, Hawaiian or some other salt that hasn’t been deprived of all it’s minerals)
Start with scoring your pomegranate with a knife and break the fruit in half with your fingers. Its the arils (seed casings) that you are after, separate these from the peel and the white pulp membranes and place in a bowl, put aside for later.
Cut the fennel into thin pieces (still intact at the bottom) and cook them in a grill pan together with a small amount of canola oil. You want the fennel to stay crunchy so use a quite high heat and wait until the fennel got some fancy stripes on each side, remove and let rest on paper towels.
The goat cheese is cut into 1 cm discs and placed on a pice of flatbread each, drizzle a little sweet honey on top and place in a hot oven (180C). You want the cheese to get a nice colour but keep an eye on the bread so it’s not getting burned.
Let the balsamic vinegar simmer together with a small squeeze of liquid honey until its half it’s original volume.
Make the salad. Start with a healthy layer of your lush greens and top with the fennel, spread a pinch of salt on top. Place the cheesy flatbreads on your plate and drizzle a few table spoons of the reduced balsamic vinegar on your salad. Finally, let a few handfuls of the red sweet pomegranate seeds finish of the dish.
Garlic polenta with sweet leek, grilled carrots and pea sprouts for luck.
1 cup polenta (not the instant kind)
4 – 6 cups light vegetable broth or water
4 small carrots
1 large leek
1 whole garlic bulb
A big bunch of basil
Pomegranate (the leftovers from the fennel salad)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off the top of the bulb, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan, drizzle olive oil on top and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 min.
Heat the vegetable broth to a boil, ad a pinch of salt to the water if you are using a home made broth. Place the peeled and halved carrots in the water and let them simmer for a minute or two, you just want to pre cook them, don’t get them too soft. Put aside after you’ve given the carrots a few squeezes of lemon.
When the carrots are out of the water it’s time for the polenta, make sure you stir constantly as you slowly pour the polenta into the pot. Keep on stirring for a couple minutes, reduce heat and simmer. Stir every five minutes or so. If the polenta becomes too thick, add hot water. The polenta will take approximately 30 minutes to cook.
While polenta is puttering away on the stove slice the leek diagonally into 4 cm long bits. Fry these with a pinch of salt in a pan until they get colour. Cover and leave on the side. Use a grill pan and place the carrots with the cut side down, fry until you have pretty stripes across the carrots.
Remove the garlic cloves from its bulb and finely chop them together with the basil leaves. Ad this to the finished polenta, you can tell the polenta is cooked when you rub a small amount of it between your fingers and it is no longer gritty, the final consistency should be creamy and smooth. If desired you can also ad grated Parmesan cheese to the polenta now.
Assemble your dish by placing a few spoonfuls of polenta on a plate. Ad the leek, two carrot halves and as a last thing pat yourself on the shoulder as you top with pea sprouts and the remaining pomegranate seeds.