Citrus-Fennel Salad with Balsamic Grilled Figs and Walnut Chutney

Posted by on Dec 9, 2010 in appetizers, Fusion, Recipes, sides | No Comments

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For Thanksgiving, Jenni and decided to surprise each other by secretly preparing our own amuse-bouche to be unveiled before dinner. Technically, mine was more like an appetizer since it consisted of several bites, but I just want to say that I created an amuse-bouche for the sake of saying it.

* Amuse Bouche: is a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre. Amuse-bouche are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but, when served, are done so according to the chef’s selection alone. These are served as an excitement of taste buds both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking.

This was my brain child. My food baby, if you will.

Walnut Chutney Ingredients:

2 cups of raw walnuts
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1/3 cup walnut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp champaign wine vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard powder
Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large saute pan over medium-low heat, toast the walnuts with the safflower oil. Stir continuously for a few minutes until the walnuts are light brown in color. Pour the walnuts into a separate bowl to cool. Place the nuts into a food processor and pulse several times until they are finely chopped. Place the nuts back into the bowl and mix in the walnut oil, maple syrup, vinegar, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Store in an air tight container until ready to use.

Fennel and Citrus Salad Ingredients:

1 Fennel Bulb, cleaned and sliced as thinly as possible
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp agave nectar
1 tbsp champaign wine vinegar
1/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 orange or tangerine, sectioned

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the fennel and orange for garnish, in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Balsamic Figs Ingredients:

8-10 fresh figs, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices or slightly less
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp molasses
3 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
pinch or two of black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp walnut oil

In a saute pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add in the shallots and cook over medium heat until right before they brown (a few minutes.) Add the shallots to a blender along with all of the other ingredients except for the extra virgin olive oil and walnut oil. Blend all of the ingredients and with the blender still running, slowly add in both oils.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Brush each fig slice with a bit of the marinade and cook briefly, just 30 seconds on each side. Remove the figs and set aside. Since you only need a small amount of the marinade, save the rest for some tofu, seitan, etc.

To assemble the dish, place the fennel slices into a medium bowl and toss with the citrus vinaigrette to coat. Let it sit for a few minutes. Place a large handful of the fennel salad onto a plate. Scoop about a tablespoon of the walnut chutney onto the salad, then arrange a few fig slices on top. This should serve about 4 people, with leftover figs and walnut chutney for perhaps a tasty salad or panini.

Garnish with a couple of orange or tangerine segments and some micro-grated zest. A little pinch of grey sea salt is nice too.

Amuse bouche beeotches!

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