It's two weeks ago, moving day, and I'm supposed to be packing up the kitchen. We've finally got the new keys and now it's just a case of boxing everything up. Unfortunately I'm distracted- there's a bulb of fennel in the fridge and no matter how many CDs and half-ironic charity shop LPs I have to sort through, I really want to try out baking some fennel.
In the middle of the growing chaos of my tiny flat, I manage to stack some magazines, fold away some unread post and clear a space. I had to eat in a hurry, not getting to savour this properly, but realising just how wonderful lemon can taste when you use it for savoury purposes: baked, going richer, almost oily, developing a tang with a much deeper resonance. This is a quick lunch to make if you have an hour or so to be in and out of the kitchen. I'd recommend baking extra lemon and saving it for another salad or with dinner later on.
Makes enough for two
1 fennel bulb, cut in half with the top sprigs cut off and set aside
Salt and pepper
1/2 a lemon, cut into eights
250g maftoul or giant couscous
Handul of salad leaves or spinach
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius. Place the fennel pieces in a roasting tray with a good covering of olive oil, salt, pepper, and the lemon chunks alongside. When the oven is ready, bake for around 30 minutes. You'll need to turn the fennel pieces halfway through and toss the lemon chunks in the olive oil so they don't bake to the tray.
Five minutes from the fennel being ready, prepare the maftoul or giant couscous as per packet instructions, along with the salad leaves or spinach you are using. Finely slice the fennel sprigs to sprinkle on top of everything to serve.
When the fennel is ready, plate up on a bed of maftoul, and mix in with salad leaves, pieces of lemon, a little more salt and pepper and any leftover oil from baking as dressing. Sprinkle over the fennel sprigs and serve.