RADICCHIO, TUNA AND BORLOTTI SALAD and BRAISED FENNEL WITH TAPENADE

Continued from: IN PRAISE OF WINTER VEGETABLES

The red radicchio was made into a salad with canned tuna, cooked borlotti and red onion (Recipe from my book: Small Fishy Bites, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins,  New Holland publisher).

The fennel was braised and topped with tapenade.

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INSALATA DI TONNO, FAGIOLI E RADICCHIO (Tuna salad with borlotti beans and radicchio)

This very simple salad was popular as an antipasto or a light meal when I was growing up as child in Trieste. In the Triestian dialect this salad is called Insalata di tonno, fazoi, zivola e radiccio.

Trieste is in North Eastern Italy not far from Venice and if you are ever in Trieste you are likely to find this salad in any trattoria (for home style food) especially those trattorie that have a buffet.

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No quantities needed for the recipe – the proportions are up to you. I like more beans than tuna and I cook my own (well covered with water, soaked overnight, change the water and cook slowly – no salt – bay leaves or a stick celery,  whole carrot or whole onion do add flavour).

If you are using canned beans, a tin is 400g. A tin of tuna 425g.

If the tuna is not packed in oil, drain it before using.

INGREDIENTS AND PROCESS

tinned tuna (packed in oil, the tuna is not drained and is broken up with a fork)
borlotti beans (drained if canned)
red radicchio
red onion, finely cut rings
 
For the dressing combine extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, a little French mustard and some salt and pepper.
 
You can combine all of the ingredients together or layer it.
Layer it:
Place red radicchio leaves at the bottom of a bowl as a bed for the salad. Next, put on the beans, then the tuna and onion as the top layer.
Pour over the dressing.
 
 

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BRAISED FENNEL

Sometimes a little bit of imagination makes an old favourite look special. This is just baked fennel with black olives but the special touch is that I used tapenade (which I make regularly and usually have some on standby in the fridge – see photo above).

I have written about making tapenade. See: TAPENADE

1-2 fennel bulbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup tapenade
¾ cup white wine, stock or water or pernod, a mixture any
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper 
 
Prepare the fennel:
Remove the fennel stalks that are not worth saving from the bulbs and discard – keep some of the fresher ones (this is mainly done for appearance but may be  also be suitable for eating). Trim away any bruised or discoloured portion of the bulbs. Cut the bulbs length-wise (vertically) into eights (or more or less) depending on the size of the fennel. Save the fronds.
 
Add the sliced fennel to a pan with hot olive oil and butter and sauté for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Add seasoning and about 1 cup of liquid (see above). Add garlic and fronds.
Cook uncovered on gentle- moderate heat for about 10 minutes, the liquid will reduce but add more if necessary
Add a teaspoon of sugar to help caramelize the juices. Increase the heat to evaporate any liquid left in the pan – this will result with the fennel cooking in the left over oil and butter and turning a deep gold colour. .
Place the fennel on a dish and pour over it any juices. Add a couple of spoonfuls of tapenade to the pan and heat it – only just to take off the chill.  Spoon the tapenade onto the fennel and serve. I guess the chives add to the composition but these are not necessary.

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