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Fennelification

21 Jun

I had a strange experience yesterday. Things were going a little haywire at work and I was feeling rudderless when I received an email from the Boy. “Have you read this yet?” he typed, “If I didn’t know better I’d swear you wrote it…”

Bay Ridge God Sky

I took a deep breath, mentally closed my ears, turned away from my bulging-over inbox and clicked on the link. It is was an almost offputting sensation, reading someone else’s words that so eerily echo my own in tone and spirit, but the more I read, the more pleasant it became. I think Melissa Clark and I would get on very well if we ever bumped into each other.

She over shops at the Greenmarket just as I do and contemplates pork products, one of my favorite activities on the face of the earth. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my eccentricities. It’s also nice to know that I could possibly work at the Gray Lady.

Bay Ridge Gingerbread House

In fact just last week I, “fell into a frenzied state of shopping euphoria, buying copious quantities of perishable green stuff.” That’s Ms. Clark’s phrase but it fits exactly what I did. I bought Puntarelle! Upland Cress! Wild Arugula! Baby Fennel! Breakfast Radishes! Shelling Peas! Three kinds of Chevre! A whole wheat Baguette!

Who was I feeding you might ask? Just me and the Boy. Talk about eyes bigger than one’s stomach!

But, no, I was wrong. Out of the blue, the Boy’s friend from home was going to be in the area for business and wanted to stop over. For once my haul was useful! It had a purpose! And yet, even after concocting a huge salad for dinner to eat along with the bread and cheese, there were still greens leftover to linger in the fridge.

And so over the weekend I concocted a simple, snappy, springy pasta dish to use up all the leftovers, including the citrus and onions that have been hanging out since my flirtation with huachinango.

Radicchio Pasta With Citrus Braised Baby Fennel

I caramelized two sweet onions which were then given a citrus and vermouth spa treatment where they were joined by the baby fennel. I left them to braise with green garlic while I boiled up some radicchio linguine and pounded hazelnuts into submission. When the pasta was done it joined the citrusy fennel. Each serving then got a dollop of goat ricotta and a sprinkling of filberts.

Can you tell what I forgot? Yes, the greens. They were supposed to go in at the very last minute to, “add a correctively spicy bite to keep things from getting too cloying,” a role played by radishes in Ms. Clark’s dish. See, we even think alike, but sadly, she actually remembers the maligned vegetables in her crisper drawer, while for me, obviously, it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. This is just one of the many reasons why I should never be trusted to watch over children and small dogs.

Even missing that spicy bite, the dish was outstanding. Satsuma are such a nice fruit. They’re not overly assertive and have the most magical perfume. Their softness perfectly harmonized with the baby fennel who are still growing into their anisey adulthood.

Radicchio Pasta With Citrus Braised Baby Fennel

And the goat’s milk ricotta? Ridiculous. Is there anything goats can’t do better than cows? I suppose steaks, but thats not what we’re here for. I’ve always found ricotta, while perfectly creamy and wonderfully textured, to be rather insipid and bland. Not so goat ricotta. It’s a bit richer feeling in the mouth and just ever so slightly barnyardy and sweet. The perfect foil for this dish. If you can’t find goat ricotta, you could make your own if you can find goat’s milk.

And so, on this first day of summer, I give you this perfectly springy dish.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Radicchio Pasta with Citrus-Braised Baby Fennel.

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