Expensive food and delicious Salad Dressings

I’ve been trying to expand my range of veggies and fruits that I eat, especially because as of lately I always find myself going for the exact same things at the grocery store/market. There are apples, strawberries, the occasional pineapple and lots of kiwis. I’m happy with that, because honestly, England doesn’t have much else on offer where you can more or less guarantee that it is going to taste of something else than water with a faint hint of sugary-fruitness. Veggies on the other hand, I’ve been longing to expand my fridge content on. And today was that day.

I went out planning on going to my local veggie seller, but instead walked on a little further down the road to that store that I’ve been meaning to have a closer look at. I went there a few weeks ago to buy some chickpea flour, a thing that had proven itself to be impossible to find anywhere else. They had a super fancy version of it and I ended up paying nearly £5 for 500 grams of flour. But oh boy, does it make a difference in tofu omelettes. Totally worth it! Anywho. I end up spending a lot of money on entirely organic and local produce, plus some fancy-schmancy italian rice-looking thing that turned out to be pasta. With my plan on buying new, unexplored green goodness I ended up buying fennel, green chard and leek.

Leek used to be one of my childhood favorites, my mom made it for me in this saucy-creamy-yumminess that I have yet to re-cook. But I have some soy-cream in the fridge that needs to be finished, and something tells me that tomorrow is the day.

Today was the day for fennel. I’ve never entirely liked it, my mom and grandma swear on it as a kidney-healing and generally amazing-for-your-body kind of vegetable. And they have it as tea. Either of those things were entirely incomprehensible to me. Until today. I remembered this recipe I’ve been reading over and over again in the Veganomicon and bought my little fennel with this recipe in mind. The recipe tells you to caramelize it in the oven and then use it as a topping for some absolutely delicious salad. Post-dinner, I am completely amazed by how sweet and juicy and yet still slightly licorice-y it is. And most of all, how manageable the licorice part is, because I’m not a fan of anything licorice related.

I think what really blew my taste-buds away was the combination of the caramelized fennel and the dressing that was suggested with the salad. I adapted it a little bit to go better with what I had lying around in the kitchen, have a try with it yourself, it is super simple and so so so delicious.

Makes enough for 1-2 people

4 baby shallots
5 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp tarragon
big pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C

Peel and half the shallots and roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes. To make the whole thing more efficient, throw in any other things you might want roasted in your salad. Peppers, tomatoes, fennel, zucchini, garlic, red onions, you’re the boss!

While the shallots are roasting prepare the rest of the dressing. You can either make it in your food processor or use your hand blender for it. I used my hand blender, because my food processor is huge and I was not excited about the idea of having to clean it for so little dressing. Throw all the ingredients into a bowl, and once the shallots are ready, add them in. Pulse until you get a creamy dressing.

You can refrigerate it until it’s as cold as you want a salad dressing to be. I was impatient and hungry, and it’s super delicious slightly warm.

I also got my hands on some absolutely amazing lettuce, so organic and so local it still had snails on the leaves and dirt in between each one. I do love London with all of my heart, but the one thing that I truly miss here is being able to grow my own veggies. The entire concept of going into your garden, picking up some lettuce and then having it for lunch 15 minutes later is pure happiness to me. And I can’t wait for my next apartment to have a garden or a rooftop terrace so I can finally get going!

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