When I woke up this morning and realized that I had a daunting day ahead of me filled with research conundrums and thesis concoctions, I decided it would be wise to cook something healthy, nutritious and delicious to keep me going.
The brain is probably the most important organ of our body. Without it we would not be able to speak, think or distinguish Ryan Gosling from Ryan Reynolds (image the horror!). It is therefore of vital importance to keep those brain cells alive and kicking, and what better way to give your brain an energy boost than by feeding it with yummy vitamins?
This fennel, red onion and pecorino tart with a super duper fresh citrus and rocket salad ticks all the boxes: tons of fruit, tons of veg and just the right amount of cheese to give your calcium level a good buzz. The aromatic aniseed flavour of the fennel works wonders with the sharp and pungent pecorino cheese and the sweetness of the onion. Join those flavours all together on a crunchy and comforting square of puff pastry pride and your brain will be doing summersaults out of utter bliss. The warm tart is accompanied with a fresh and zingy salad with rocket and juicy grapefruit and orange segments.
Even though I was sitting at home, doing a lot of boring and dreadful stuff, my lunch provided me with an escape route to more pleasant and lovable places. This dish is reminiscent of Parisian art cafés, Roman palazzo grandeur and London modernist cool. It is artsy, hearty and brain-bubblingly delicious.
It is the best.
Exactly what I want my brain to be.
Ingredients (serves 2)
For the tarts
- ½ fennel, cut into thin slices (use a mandolin)
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- Thin slices of pecorino
- Puff pastry, cut into approx. 15cm squares
For the salad:
- 300gr rocket leaves
- 1 pink grapefruit, cut into segments
- 2 oranges, cut into segments
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment and put on your puff pastry squares. Prick the dough all over with a fork but leave a rim of about 0,5cm.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan and quickly sauté the fennel with the cumin for just 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Layer some pecorino slices on the puff pastry, followed by some sautéed fennel and red onion. When you have used up the fennel and onion, just grate on some large flakes of pecorino and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
- Meanwhile make your fresh salad. (The salad should be done last minute, otherwise it will get soggy.) Put the grapefruit and orange segments in a bowl with the sliced red onion.
- Make a vinaigrette with the tarragon vinegar, honey, olive oil and some juice of the orange and grapefruit. (When you are cutting the fruit, juices will come out, just make sure you catch some of it in a small bowl and use max. 1 tbsp of the juice is this vinaigrette) Season with salt and pepper.
- When your tarts come out of the oven, toss the rocket leaves in the citrus salad and finish with the lovely dressing.