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Pink grapefruit and fennel salad, and rack of lamb | James St

FENNEL is such a misunderstood vegetable, normally reserved for long cooking or maybe served as an afterthought with a piece of grilled salmon.

That’s a shame as it is a wonderfully versatile food; it can be eaten raw with fresh citrus fruit such as grapefruit, as in the recipe here, which originates from Sicily, or roasted and served with meats such as rabbit, pork and lamb.

It’s a great starter for this week’s showstopping main dish – rack of lamb with an aubergine caviar. This delicate dish is surprisingly easy to make, but its depth of flavours and dainty presentation make it a real hit. Perfect for spring entertaining – with family or at a safe distance, of course. Enjoy!

PINK GRAPEFRUIT, FENNEL AND PARMESAN SALAD

(Serves 6)

1.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar

half teaspoon honey

60ml extra–virgin olive oil

2 heads of Belgian endive, halved lengthwise, cut lengthwise into thin strips

1 head of butter lettuce, leaves torn

250g thinly sliced fresh fennel bulb

3 small pink grapefruits, segmented

Parmesan shavings for garnish

Method:

Whisk vinegar and honey in large bowl to blend. Whisk in olive oil; season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Add endive, butter lettuce, and fennel to bowl; toss to coat. Top salad with grapefruit sections, then Parmesan cheese, and serve.

RACK OF LAMB WITH AUBERGINE CAVIAR

(Serves 4)

Rack of lamb

1 aubergine

1 sprig thyme

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 blanched tomato, skin off and diced

Method:

French trim your rack of lamb (cut any fat or sinew pieces of meat away to expose the bone) and marinade with mint, garlic and olive oil and cover with cling film for 20 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and seal off in a hot pan until brown on both sides. Place the sealed lamb in a roasting tin in the oven at 180C. Cook for six minutes for medium rare, eight minutes for medium, or 10–12 minutes for well done. Allow to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place before serving.

For the aubergine caviar: Half the aubergine and score the flesh. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, Place in a baking tray with the sprigs of thyme and sprinkle over finely diced garlic.

Bake in the oven at 170C for approximately 30 minutes. Once baked, remove the flesh, chop and place in a bowl. Stir in the diced tomato and mix thoroughly. Quenelle on to a plate and serve with the lamb.

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