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An apology to my fans

After not doing an EMW recipe last week I just want to thank everyone (Mum) who got in touch wondering if I was ok. Sadly I had a long-overdue meeting with covid which ran late.

Now I’m back. Maybe better. Definitely bigger (ice cream will do that).

It’s why we’re keeping things light this week with fennel, blood orange, walnut, radicchio, and ricotta salad. This dish makes the most of seasonal ingredients. It’s a fresh, vibrant, and flavourful bowl of goodness that will make you think of warmer days ahead.

This week’s album: Up All Night by Razorlight

This album featured heavily at school but I haven’t listened to it for a long long time. Maybe it’s just the nostalgic effect it has on me, but it still sounds good. It’s full of upbeat rock with some soft touches throughout.

Light, leafy, lovely

We’re still in citrus season so it’s only right to use these fruits as much as possible while they’re at their peak.

A few weeks ago we used oranges for dessert, but this week they’ll provide a pop of tang and taste in our salad.

We’ll use blood oranges as a) they have a really striking appearance and b) their flavour works so well here. They’re subtly sweet, slightly floral, and delightfully tart (think of standard oranges with hints of grapefruit/raspberry/cranberry).

Radicchio is not everyone’s cup of oat flat white, but I’m a big fan. It’s bitterness puts people off, but in this salad that bitterness is perfectly balanced by the creamy ricotta and the sweetness of the blood orange. As a less bitter alternative, white chicory would work well, or Castelfranco (a Venetian radicchio which I've used in this recipe alongside Treviso radicchio).

I also love fennel which is in season. Fennel becomes sweeter when it’s cooked (as does radicchio) but to keep this salad fresh and crunchy we’re going to leave it raw and slice it really thinly.

We’ll dress everything with the juice from the blood oranges and best-quality olive oil. Finally, we’ll add some toasted walnuts for added texture and their earthy flavour (FYI - toasted nuts are a great way to add an extra level to a dish). If walnuts aren’t your thing then hazelnuts, pistachios, and almonds would all work well.

What you need

The below serves 2. It takes 20 mins to prep, then ZERO mins to cook.

25g walnuts
1 fennel
2 blood oranges
1 radicchio
200g ricotta
3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
(best quality)
1 tsp dried oregano
10 mint leaves
Sea salt & black pepper

Ready, steady, cook

1. For best results, toast the walnuts in a 180°c/160°c (fan) for 5-7 mins. Don’t want to heat an entire oven just to toast some nuts? Add them to a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toss frequently for 3-5 mins. It’s important to keep them moving so they don’t burn.

2. Cut off the root of the radicchio and separate the leaves, cutting any large ones in half lengthwise. Add to a large mixing bowl.

3. Zest one of the blood oranges and set aside. To segment your oranges, cut a small slice from the top and bottom. Stand them up and carefully follow the contour of the fruit to remove the skin and white pith.

Over a small bowl to catch the juices, use a sharp knife to cut between the membranes of each segment. Set the segments aside, and squeeze all the juice from the remaining centrepiece of the fruit into the bowl.

4. Cut off an inch or so from the top of the fennel (reserving the fronds for later), and a small amount of the root. Remove the outermost layer. Now cut in half lengthwise.

Use a mandolin to finely slice the fennel, placing the now-exposed middle face down. No mandolin? No problem. Just slice as finely as possible using a sharp knife. For this, place the flat side down on your board (for stability) and carefully slice lengthwise again.

5. Add the sliced fennel to the same bowl as the radicchio, along with the blood orange segments, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, the orange zest, and about ½ of the reserved blood orange juice and fennel fronds. Season generously with sea salt, black pepper, and oregano. Mix well and check the seasoning.

6. Finally, split the ricotta between two bowls and season with salt and pepper. Build the dressed salad around the ricotta as artfully or rustically as you desire. Break over the toasted walnuts before finishing with a final drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Final thought

Next week we complete the quadrilogy (yeh I looked that up) of Roman pasta dishes. Best to start preparing now, it’s a good ‘un.

Speak then,


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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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