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Fennel, haloumi and olive salad with roast potatoes

February 23, 2009

Now, before you get turned off by the fennel, let it be noted that I’m referring to fennel bulb (I got a nice one at the Riccarton House farmer’s market, which also had Gruff Junction’s lovely goats cheese haloumi). Before waves of confusion crash over, I will be explaining these two fabulous ingredients, because like me, as a student, you’ve probably had your vegetable variety recognition strangled with the minute selection of vegetables and cheeses that are available at the local slack’n’slave. Ok – fennel. It’s normally a herb, but the bulb is a refreshing and slightly sweet licorice-y tasting thing. It looks like a green set of bagpipes. Now, normally I’m not a fan of licorice (unless it’s not licorice, ie…raspberry licorice), but fennel bulb is lovely (cooked anyway…I daren’t try it raw). Especially when paired with a mix of sweet and salty. And roast potatoes. But then…what doesn’t go with roast potatoes, right?! Haloumi is a chewy kinda cheese that you can pan fry without it melting, so it goes great in salad in little cubes. It goes “squeak” as you bite down on it :) The goats stuff is really nice, but cow’s milk haloumi is great too – some supermarkets will carry it, but Piko and farmers markets will most likely have it.

Ok, so this isn’t every day food, but it’s something to try if you’re feeling like something special, without too much effort!

Tonight I’m trying Heidi’s Garam Masala Tofu scramble with some tweaks, and will let you know how it goes tomorrow. In the mean time…this is really quite nice.

alittlegourmet1Fennel, haloumi and olive salad with roast potatoes

serves one generously or two as a light lunch

4 medium potatoes, diced into 3cm chunks
cooking oil
salt & pepper

1/2 medium fennel bulb (halve vertically), sliced (reserve some of the herb for garnish)
1 shallot or 1/4 of an onion, chopped roughly and finely
approx 100g haloumi, chopped into 1cm cubes
as many olives as your heart desires

Set oven to 190C or 375F. Place potatoes, salt and pepper into a roasting tray and drizzle with olice oil, then toss to coat. If you’re not using a non-stick pan and your potatoes stick, flip each bit so that they sit skin side on the bottom of the roasting tray. Bang in the oven, and check on them 20 mins later to give them a shake. They will take about 30-40mins in a conventional oven, whereas the frying below only takes about fifteen (inc. prep), so time things well!

While potatoes are cooking, prep other ingredients. Heat about 1 Tbs oil  on medium heat in a large, non stick frypan and throw in the fennel bulb slices, cover, and let cook until you can hear sizzling. Uncover, throw in shallots, and stir so that everything is on one layer. Cover, and let sit for about a minute. Uncover, add a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper, and make a sort of well or space in the centre of the pan for the haloumi. Add to the pan, let cook for about a minute or until golden, then flip each cube by nudging an edge downwards with a spatula or fish slice. Let cook on second side for about a minute until golden, then add olives, and stir the whole thing to mix everything together and swirl the flavours around a bit. Turn off heat, and let sit until potatoes are ready.

Once potatoes can be easily skewered with a fork and are golden, take them out and plate them up. Throw the fennel salad over the top, and garnish with fresh fennel (the herby bits). Yumyum.

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