fennel is one of my favourite vegetables; i also love fennel seeds as a spice. and lemon is one of the ingredients which i always need to have to hand, otherwise i start to feel twitchy. all of which makes it obvious that i was going to love this dish.
the flavour combination isn’t new but the results are absolutely superb – chunks of fennel are tossed with fennel seeds, matchsticks of lemon zest (use a vegetable peeler, avoid the white pith then cut into thin strips)the juice of the lemons, olive oil, salt and pepper. these are covered in foil and roasted at 180c for 20 mins and then, having been uncovered, are given a final 10 minutes to crisp up and caramelise the edges.
i think it’s the lemon peel match sticks which really make this taste so nice – cooking them slowly under cover so the peel softens before it starts to caramelise creates a mellow but rich flavour. this contrasts wonderfully well with the fennel seeds and creamy fried halloumi (slice and soak it overnight, to create a softer texture when it is cooked).
the final winning component in this anna hansen recipe, from her modern pantry cookery book, is crispy capers (shallow fry them in vegetable oil for a few minutes).
i piled these ingredients on top of some toasted sour dough bread, which was rubbed with a smoked garlic clove, and finished with some rocket and a drizzle of olive oil. just delicious and my favourite recipe from the book, so far.