June 28, 2017

Trying new things leads to deliciousness (Eggplant and Fennel Salad with Goat Cheese)

It took me a long time to appreciate fennel.  It was not until I was forced to cook with it way back when I tried Plated the first time.  Because of that recipe, I now know you can tame down that licorice taste and enjoy how well it works with others.  

I have been participating in the Eat Local Challenge during the month of June.  Every week I get a box of random local produce from Hollygrove market and Farm and make some creative recipes from whatever is in there.  

A few weeks ago, it had two semi unfamiliar ingredients, eggplant and fennel.  I have only made ratatouille and this beautiful eggplant Parmesan with eggplant so I need to branch out.  I found this gorgeous salad with both of them, so I decided to try it.  Gentleman caller and I were going to a dinner party and I thought it would be perfect.  It started to rain so I could not grill and I don't use a mandolin because I like my fingers, so I changed it up a bit.  It was so delicious.  Everyone loved it and so will you.  Full recipe to follow the montage

Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
Just so pretty, delicious and different!
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
The fennel did not fit in my produce drawer!  I hate that I wasted most of the fronds.
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
Grated garlic smells so good.  Well at least I think it does!
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
Dressing pre-shake
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
And after shake
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
I salted these to release some liquid
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
As thin as I could slice it without risking my limbs
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
What's the next best thing to a grill?
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
A seasoned cast iron skillet of course!
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese
I plated and garnished with sliced green onions and some fennel fronds.  Just delightful!
Eggplant and Fennel Salad with goat cheese (Adapted from From Scratch Fast)

Ingredients
1 large Italian eggplant (about 2 pounds), cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and halved
½ cup crumbled goat cheese (I used garlic and herb flavored)
thinly sliced green onions for garnish

Lay sliced of eggplant over a cutting board and sprinkle generously with salt.  Let sit to drain for 20 minutes.  Place the lemon juice in a small bowl or jar and add the grated garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and balsamic and whisk or shake to combine.  The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.  Cut the fennel into paper-thin slices using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Place the fennel in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Measure out 2 tbsp of dressing and separate.  Pour remaining dressing over the fennel and toss to coat.  Heat some olive oil over medium heat in a  cast iron skillet.  Use a damp paper towel to remove most of the salt from the eggplant. Brush one side with reserved dressing and place on hot skillet and brown 5-7 minutes.  Brush top side with dressing before flipping over.  Brush browned side with dressing.  Flip again and cook each side until desired browning is present, brushing with sauce each time.  Arrange the eggplant slices on a platter. Top with the fennel salad, and garnish with the goat cheese and green onions. 

Happy Cooking!

Missy

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