Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fennel and White Beans Dip

Since our children have been away for their long vacation in France, I have not been cooking as much I  generally do (and nope, even though we are not on our regular schedule anymore, my husband has not been cooking more, with the exception of the occasional BBQ! Sans commentaire!) Added to the fact that Philadelphia has been experiencing temperatures in the 100F (more than 40C), the idea of eating a warm meal does not appeal to me. And just thinking about turning on the oven makes me sweat!
Since both my husband and I have been enjoying the change of rythm to.... work more (pathetic, I know!), dinners have been generally a large salade composée or a cold vegetable dish with a side of dip: guacamole, mango salsa, hummus, edamame spread, etc.  That, with a glass of red wine, on our roof terrasse... a little preview of our upcoming summer vacations in France!

Since we were getting beautiful fennel bulbs with amazing fronds at the farmers' market the other day, I was trying to figure out what to do with the fronds so not to have to waste them (living in a building, albeit with a roof terrasse, we don't compost.) I have used fronds the way I use dill (it's the same family): in a salad or to bake fish in the oven/on the BBQ. I tried to make a fronds pesto but my blender being too weak I never managed to reach a puree-like texture. I was therefore happy to find an article on fennel in the New York times and realized that I could actually use at least some of the fronds.
Fennel, like turnips, has a very different taste when you eat raw versus cooked. I like both but never really ate raw fennel until I started adding it to salads for crunchiness (instead of celery). I never grew up eating pieces of raw fennel just like that as an apperitivo (I went to two different Italian families that did that and told me it's very common in Italy)....but have been more and more prone to doing the same!  Why not, Americans offer raw broccoli to dip into ranch dressing after all. Why not fennel? Try it! It's actually delicious when dipped in this fennel-based recipe! Perferct for your summer entertaining!
Bon Appétit!

- 1 small bulb of fennel with some fronds
- 1 small can of white beans (I generally use cannellini) - rinsed and drained
- 1 small garlic clove, chopped
- a few fennel seeds, crushed (optional)
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 2 Tbs of Olive oil (or more)
- Salt and pepper to taste

  • Cut the fennel in half. Reserve one half and a few fronds for serving and decoration
  • Cut the other half and some fronds into small pieces and put into a blender
  • Add the drained white beans, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, pepper, fennel seeds and olive oil. Blend until desired consitency.
  • Adjust seasoning and put in the fridge for 30mn or until serving.
  • Decorate with a few extra fronds.
  • Serve with slices of the remaining fennel, other vegetables or pita chips.

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