It’s been a while since my last blog post, that’s because I have been busy working, studying, and cooking! In fact I’m spoilt for choice as to which new experimental recipe to share next. I have opted for a brown rice and fennel dish which I tried for the first time two weeks ago. Following my own advice on the importance of varying ingredients, as well as cooking methods, I went in search of inspiration for a different way to eat fresh fennel, rather than just sliced and oven baked as I usually have it. I was also trying to get away from the ubiquitous rice salad. The result is something which (Spanish readers please forgive me) is somewhat reminiscent of a cheat’s seafood Paella. So here goes, I hope you enjoy eating it as much as I did!
Ingredients (per person)
80g of brown rice
1 small fennel
1 clove of garlic
1 small banana shallot
1 small can (approx 150ml) canned tomato
2 tbsp olive oil
a handful of whole black olives
a handful of (shelled and cooked) mussels
1 pinch of sea salt
1. Rinse, then cook the brown rice in a pan with boiling water and a pinch of salt, following the packet instructions. (Approximately 2.5 to 3 parts water to 1 part rice, and it cooks in 35 to 40 minutes).
2. In the meantime, soak the fennel in a bowl of bicarbonate and water for approximately 10 minutes then pat dry with some kitchen towel.
3. Peel and chop the shallot and garlic. The trim, and thinly slice the fennel.
4. If you wish to pit the olives, place them on a clean surface and use your thumb to squash each olive. This will break the fleshy part open enough to remove the pit, whilst keeping the olive in one piece.
5. Heat the olive oil in a pan and lightly saute’ the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes on a lower heat, taking care not to burn them.
6. Add the sliced fennel and increase the heat slightly. Cook for about 10 minutes until it softens. Then add the black olives, the tomato and a pinch of salt.
7. Lower the heat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes so that the tomato reduces.
8. Take the pre-cooked mussels (I had some leftover from the day before, but you can buy some pre-cooked ones or steam them for a couple of minutes yourself), shell them and add them to the pan with the tomato and fennel mixture, and add the rice.
9. Mix well and turn off the heat. Serve hot with a sprinkle of olive oil.
You can also add some spices to the tomato sauce if you want to give it extra depth. Saffron works well with this.
This dish looks amazing, it doesn’t take long to prepare and it is very tasty, as well as containing all the elements of a balanced dish (protein from the mussels, fibre from the fennel and carbohydrates from the brown rice). Finish it off with a green leaf salad and a piece of fruit for a complete meal.