Being far away from home has its ups and downs. Weekend visits are no longer possible so instead of family barbecues you gravitate towards family Skype dates, it’s not the same but pretty good given the circumstances.
On days when I feel the distance particularly acutely I cook. I make something that reminds me of home. Either something I ate growing up, something with California flair (avocados anyone?) or sometimes it’s just the act of cooking; chopping, mincing, seasoning, tasting and enjoying that soothes me. I like the process. I like the work that goes into making a great dish.
That being said this dish isn’t really much work. Sundays are lazy days here in Germany where everything except bars, restaurants and bakeries are closed so shopping for your supper isn’t really an option.
I already had some chicken simmering away on the stove and with a glass of chilled white wine in my hand I perused the dwindling supplies in the fridge. Not much remained aside from a few limp spring onions, half a bunch of radishes and a single bulb of fennel.
Aha! It came to me. Radishes and fennel. Perfect.
Previously I never would have entertained many recipe ideas for radishes. I grew up eating radishes that had been delicately sliced and then buried (or hidden) in a salad of iceberg lettuce and rubbery tomatoes that was positively swimming in ranch dressing straight from the bottle. Not very stimulating stuff.
Lately though I’ve been reading a lot about braised radishes and how amazingly soft and tender they become if you give them a little love. Now that was intriguing. So I thought sautéed radishes and fennel had just as much likelihood to be surprisingly delicious. I’m so happy I was right.
Sauteed Radishes and Fennel
Serves two as an appetizer or side
1 bunch radishes
1 bulb fennel
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 T olive oil
1 pat unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 T white balsamic vinegar
fresh basil for garnish
I started by putting a little olive oil in a nonstick skillet and added a smidgeon of butter (just because). While this got nice and hot I quartered my radishes and sliced my fennel as thin as possible. If you have one, a mandolin would be quite handy here for the fennel.
Once the oil and butter has heated add the radishes. Let them cook for about 2 minutes without moving them around. Then, add the fennel and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the vegetables with the sugar and stir to evenly coat. Add the vinegar and let cook for 8-10 minutes or until the fennel has started to caramelize and the radishes have softened and mellowed to a light rose hue.
Enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine and a crusty baguette.