I have been trying to figure out whether or not to participate in a share of an organic vegetable CSA (community supported agriculture). My fear was that in the early months I would receive an unending supply of radishes. I did a little research and looked at the photos of the deliveries over the twenty four week cycle and there wasn’t a radish in sight.
In fact, the assortment of vegetables was really varied and user friendly to a normal, nightly dinner challenged cook. The one vegetable that stumped me was fennel…what would I do with the fennel? Ironically, as I was trying to figure this out I received an email from Chef Daniel Bortnick, the Executive Chef and General Manager of Firefly. I had a wonderful meal this past February at Firefly, which is located in Washington DC.
I typically do not write emails to restaurants, but I had a quinoa dish that was extraordinary. True confessions, I thought that I did not like quinoa but I kept trying to make it because it is gluten free and a “super food.” Every time I made it, it had an edge or a bitter taste to it. Amy Ratner gave me the good advice that I am supposed to rinse the quinoa before cooking, which vastly improved the taste.
This was a quinoa dish with a green onion and spinach puree and braised fennel. Receiving the response from Chef Bortnick on St. Patrick’s Day was a lucky omen for me because I was literally deciding that day on whether or not to take a share in the CSA. It was the tipping point because I now know what I am going to do with the fennel!
This recipe has multiple components, but is not difficult and I think between the spinach and the quinoa, it must pack a powerful nutritious punch.
It is also ironic that the recipe arrived in my inbox on St. Patrick’s Day because the dish is a glorious shade of green on the plate. Next year I may aim for a green dinner versus the typical corned beef.
Thanks to Chef Danny and enjoy this recipe!
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QUINOA WITH GREEN ONION PUREE AND BRAISED FENNEL
YIELD: 2 QTS
2 CUPS QUINOA
3 CUPS VEG STOCK
½ CUP SPRING GARLIC, BOTTOMS, SLICED THIN
½ CUP YELLOW ONION
To Taste SALT & PEPPER
2 CUPS GREEN ONION PUREE
2 CUPS BRAISED FENNEL, DICED
2 T BUTTER
IN A 4 QT SAUCE POT, SWEAT GREEN GARLIC AND ONIONS. ADD QUINOA AND VEG STOCK AND SIMMER UNTIL LIQUID IS COOKED OUT. STIR IN GREEN ONION PUREE, BUTTER AND BRAISED FENNEL. COOK UNTIL THE GREEN ONION PUREE IS ABSORBED.
GREEN ONION PUREE
YIELD: 1 QT
2 CUP SPINACH, BLANCHED AND CHOPPED
2 CUP GREEN ONION TOPS, BLANCH AND CHOPPED
½ CUP VEG STOCK
To Taste SALT
COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS IN BLENDER AND PUREE UNTIL SMOOTH. USE AS LITTLE STOCK AS POSSIBLE TO GET IT SPINNING, SEASON AND TASTE.
YIELD: 2 EACH
2 HEADS FENNEL, HALVED & CORES REMOVED
1 CUP WHITE WINE
1 QT VEG STOCK
¼ CUP ONION, CHOPPED
¼ CUP CARROT, CHOPPED
¼ CUP CELERY, CHOPPED
1 EA HERB SACHET (PARSLEY STEMS, THYME, BAY, GARLIC)
To Taste SALT & PEPPER
PLACE ALL INGREDIENTS IN A SAUCE POT AND BRING TO A BOIL. REDUCE TO A SIMMER, COVERED, UNTIL THE FENNEL IS TENDER (APPROXIMATELY 40 MINUTES). REMOVE TO COOL