I wasn’t going to cook tonight. Andy is working late and I figured I would just graze my way through the cabinets and wash it all down with a glass of wine. But then I saw the perfectly ripe tomatoes on the counter just begging to be eaten. I was inspired.
I’ve been on a bit of an anise kick lately. Fennel and fresh tarragon have never been on my list of favorites…until recently. In my quest to try ingredients that I don’t usually use, I’ve been playing around with both. Sautéing raw fennel bulb makes it much milder, and when paired with the right flavors, it seems the intense licorice flavor can be tamed. Tomatoes love fennel and tarragon. I learned tonight, however, that they do not necessarily love them both at the same time.
These tomatoes would have been good all by themselves, but I wanted a light, fresh salad to highlight them. My plan of attack: some sautéed fennel, a little fresh tarragon and the fresh tomatoes tossed in a garlic and sherry vinaigrette, all on a bed of peppery arugula. Now in theory, this sounded good. In my mouth, it was a bit of an anise overload. My wonderful tomatoes were lost. Okay…so eighty-six the tarragon. Much, much better. I could taste the tomatoes and still got a nice hint of anise from the sautéed fennel.
This was a super quick and easy dish; less than 10 minutes from start to totally cleaned up. It would be perfect for a first course or paired with a piece of fish or barbecued steak.
And what did I have with this lovely, healthy, summery salad?
Frozen tater tots with chipotle ranch dressing. Hey, I was cooking for one…what more do you want? (Actually, I would have made the tater tots if Andy had been here, too.)