Dinner a la Jamie Oliver
Saturday night I felt like eating a goat’s cheese salad. So I fished online for a quick recipe and found the perfect, mouth-watering warm goat’s cheese, fennel and rocket salad a la Jamie Oliver.
… which looks like this and takes about 15 minutes to prepare.
herb salad with goat’s cheese
• a bunch of fresh marjoram, leaves picked
• 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 good handfuls of rocket
• 1 bulb of fennel, halved and very finely sliced
• a handful of good-quality black olives
• a bunch of lemon basil, leaves picked
• juice of ½ a lemon
• 200g goats’ cheese, crumbled
• 2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.Chop the marjoram leaves, or pound them in a pestle and mortar. Put them in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of pepper. Rub this mixture all over the goats’ cheese and bake in the preheated oven for around 10 to 15 minutes until nice and golden.Toss the rocket, fennel, olives and lemon basil together in a bowl. Dress your salad with around 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and just over half your lemon juice, and season. Divide over four plates and sprinkle over the crumbled goat’s cheese and sliced chilli … fantastic!
The biggest surprise in all this, apart from being the most delicious, finger-lickin’ salad I’d eaten in a looong time, was the fennel. Which tastes just like licorice. I used to love licorice sweets as a kid. My mom had to stash away the bags because once I opened one of those, I couldn’t stop until I finished them all.
I love this plant, not only because it tastes good and reminds me of my childhood, but also because it has a whole bunch of health benefits. I drank a lot of fennel seeds tea when Aidan was born as it increases lactation and relives baby colics. And my mom makes the most amazing soup from the seeds. But I was never really curious to try the bulb. Now that I know how good it is, I will be using it a lot in my salads.
A bit of history
- Apparently the Romans were big fans of this wonderful plant and used it as a galactogogue – meaning mothers ate it to increase their milk supply.
- In ancient times it was considered a food of gods and eating it allowed a person to achieve knowledge of the gods. Prometheus stole fire from heaven and carried the flame in the stalk of a fennel plant
- Fennel shoots, fennel water and fennel seeds are all mentioned in a 1961 record of Spanish agriculture
- It was frequently utilised in Anglo-Saxon cookery and medical recipes prior to the Norman Conquest.
A few health benefits
- Fennel is used to treat female hormonal imbalance like PMS and menopause
- It helps with digestion by stimulating production of gastric juices and provides relief from symptoms of IBS
- It detoxes and heals the liver
- Traditional Chinese medicine includes the use of fennel for gastroenteritis, hernia, abdominal pain, for a calming effect on bronchitis and coughs, and to open nasal passages and to resolve phlegm.
- The infusion may be used as an eye wash or compress to treat conjunctivitis and blepharitis
- Fennel oil can be used externally to ease muscular and rheumatic pains.