Cooking with heart, 184pp.
by Pete Evans
Murdoch Books Australia, 2012
Cooking on page 32
Australian chef and author Pete Evans advocates a paleo diet. That’s one based on the types of food thought to have been eaten by early humans—namely meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, and excluding dairy and cereal products, as well as all processed food.
Not sure that I could ever adapt to the limitations of a paleo diet—I love my dairy and cereal. But I am also a cook-from-scratch person, and always appreciate cookbooks that assume I don’t start with a tin of this or a bottle of that.
This book’s subtitle is ‘healthy recipes for every occasion’, and I reckon the recipe on page 32 is worthy of any dinner party.
Garlic and chilli prawns with blood oranges and fennel salad
100 g (3 1/2 oz) fennel, about 1 bulb
4 large blood oranges
80 ml (2 1/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) extra virgin oil
60 ml (2 fl oz/ 1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
800 g (1 lb 12 oz) cooked tiger prawns (shrimp) or other prawns, peeled and deveined, tails left intact
1 long red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
To make the salad, wash the fennel and discard the outer bulb—you need to use the inner part/heart of the fennel bulb. Reserve some of the fennel fronds for garnish. Thinly slice or shave the fennel and place in a bowl.
Peel the oranges and remove as much of the white pith as you can. Remove the seeds. Slice the oranges in rounds about 5 mm (1/4 inch- thick. Add to the bowl with the fennel.
To make the dressing, mix half the olive oil with 1 teaspoon of the vinegar and pour over the oranges and fennel. Season with freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle half the parsley through the salad to give it some colour. Toss to combine and allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Place the prawns in a bowl and add the chilli, garlic and the remaining oil, vinegar and parsley. Season with pepper. Toss to combine. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes before serving. Layer the salad onto the plates, then arrange the prawns on top and garnish with the reserve fennel fronds.
How it played out
I’ve been sitting on this recipe for quite some time, waiting for blood oranges to be in season. And you can bet I pounced when I saw a bag of them going for a mere $3. I was equally lucky with the prawns, finding a kilo bag of already cooked, shelled and deveined ones for $18.
So the only challenges in making this recipe were peeling the oranges and thinly slicing the fennel. I always get Poor John to do the fine chopping of chillies, herbs, garlic and the like. He’s a dab hand with the mezzaluna.
The oranges were fiddly and annoying for me, but manageable. But I got brave with the fennel. I decided it was time to bring out the scary mandolin gadget that I bought years ago and had used only once or twice. Those razor-shape blades zipped through the fennel (and not my fingers) in no time. I wonder when they’ll come up with an efficient orange peeler.
This is perfect party food. I made it in the afternoon, popped it in the fridge, then set the table. When the guests arrived all I had to do was offer pre-dinner drinks and nibbles, put the platter of seafood on the table and enjoy the compliments.
Too easy, full of healthy ingredients, impressive looking and perfect served with garlic sourdough toasts.
And a word about travel—don’t forget to check out my travel blog.