This particular meal is a tribute to my last roommate Roberta, who just moved back to Campobasso. She always cooked a lot of grilled chicken and turkey. She had a very healthy style of eating. Usually I am too lazy to get out the grill pan or have other recipes in mind. But for this meal I decided to stop being lazy and I pulled out the grill pan to grill up some turkey.
|Only the white is edible|
I decided to also make an orange and fennel salad because we had talked about it one night when she was cutting up some fennel. I don’t have much experience with fennel. I’ve had it a couple of times at Bruschetta’s since they have a beautiful pear and fennel salad. But the majority of the salad isn’t actually fennel. I’ve also had it baked in the oven with cheese and butter (thanks to some of my Florentine roommates back in the days of Florence).
I, however, had never actually cooked with fennel before so it was really interesting for me as I watched her make a fennel and apple salad. It was simple. Thinly sliced green apple and fennel, salt, pepper and olive oil. She explained to me that her salad is traditionally made in Sicily with oranges but that the green apple worked as well because they have little more bite to them than an ordinary red or yellow apple.
I was fascinated and promptly bought a fennel… and then being me, did nothing with it for over a week. Luckily, fennel holds well in the refrigerator.
|A traditional Sicilian Salad|
Now for anyone who doesn’t know what fennel is, it is a vegetable, larger than celery but similar in appearance except they are white and much larger at the bulbous root tip. You only eat the white, either raw or cooked. It is crisp and delicious and tastes a bit like licorice. It tastes more strongly of licorice when cooked. If you don’t like vegetables, but like licorice, I highly recommend it. I normally don’t like licorice candy and that’s why I’ve shied away from fennel for so long. It turns out I like licorice if it’s not candy!
This salad with fennel and oranges is really light and utterly delicious. It’s a little sweet but savory at the same time. The simplicity and acidity of the salad goes really well with the simple grilled turkey. Or you could easily substitute the turkey breast with chicken breast.
The turkey should cook quite quickly so I would recommend prepping the salad first so you can eat the turkey while still warm.
Sliced turkey breast partially or fully defrosted
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes if you like spicy
Olive oil or pam spray
I always coat the grill pan with a little olive oil or nonstick spray so there’s less likelihood of the turkey sticking to the pan (which inevitably leads to easier clean up!). Use a medium flame and let the grill pan get really hot. In the meantime, sprinkle both sides of the turkey with salt, pepper and red peper flakes. When the pan is hot put your turkey on long ways, so that the length of the turkey gets grill marks. I failed at this the first time, but it still tasted good (just looks a little cooler with beautiful grill marks).
Leave the turkey alone for a few minutes and flip when you have clear grill marks on the one side. This works a lot better if the pan is hot, hot when you add the chicken and not just warm. If your turkey slices are particularly thick, you can flip again for a crosshatch pattern.
Orange and Fennel Salad (one large serving)
1 whole fennel
1 or 2 whole oranges (I used blood orange for the color)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Remove any dark spots from you fennel and wash the leaves thoroughly. Remove the branches and very bottom of the plant. Then cut the white into thin slices (if you want them really, really thin, like in restaurants, you can use a grater to slice them, but I prefer them thicker for some crunch to contrast the orange). Put the slices into a bowl and then cut your orange in half. Slice out the wedges and add to the salad. Dress with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix and serve.
You can also squeeze some extra orange into the salad for an extra
I served mine next to the turkey but you can also serve it directly on the turkey since it adds some moisture and flavor to the basic grilled turkey.