OK (my son and his fiancé, who really do use that moniker) have relocated from New York to Paris for the first half of 2010 and are reveling in their experience with French food, whether eating out or shopping in the markets. (First impression of the open-air markets: why shop in a grocery store, ever?) Since they are neophytes in the kitchen, we decided that we would swap photos from the market for recipes or suggestions about what to do with the produce.
The first batch included some lettuce, shallots and what look like Satsuma tangerines, which so happened to approximate a recent salad that The Dad and I had for dinner. Since the haul included a bulb of fennel, OK could add some very thin (shaved) slices to the salad. Make a balsamic vinaigrette and you’re set! (2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp-1 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar, a little minced shallot, some – optional – grated tangerine peel). The juice from the sliced tangerines will enliven the dressing, so the vinegar is there mainly to balance the sweetness.
As for the main course, the ingredients included fennel, red pepper, carrots and onions or shallots. Plus the tangerines. I would locate a small can of tomatoes (or a few fresh ones if they’re decent) and maybe some black olives. The little black shriveled ones cured in olive oil, referred to as Niçoise olives (from Nice, France) would be great. A braised fennel dish could be accompanied by chicken or fish, or tossed into pasta. Very south of France!
Fennel takes longer to cook than the rest of the ingredients, so I would braise it slowly with the shallot or onion, then add the other ingredients.
1 bulb of fennel, cored and thinly sliced vertically
1 small onion, thinly sliced, again vertically
1 red pepper, thinly sliced in vertical strips similar in size to the fennel
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup (more or less) chopped canned tomatoes (or fresh)
1 tbsp orange or tangerine peel, cut into tiny dice (1/8” squares)
Juice of 1 orange or tangerine
Prepare all of the vegetables. Cook the sliced fennel and onion or shallot in a small amount of olive oil in a covered pan over low heat, adding a little water to moisten, for about 15 minutes until starting to soften. Add the pepper, carrot, tomatoes, citrus peel and juice, and continue to cook, covered, until the vegetables are soft, probably another 5-7 minutes. Remove lid and cook down the liquid a little if desired. Add olives and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a vegetable dish with chicken or fish, or toss into pasta.