Fintastic Fennels – Cartoccio di Finocchi e Mandarini

Over this weekend, I discovered that there is in fact a fairly impressive range of Italian magazines available in Helsinki. Despite also being quite impressed with their prices (costing about 2-3 times as much as in Italy), I decided to invest in an Italian cooking magazine called La Cucina Italiana. It appeared to be one of the more “high end” options with beautiful pictures and some interesting articles too (and with proper paper – I hate to read magazines with sticky, thin paper!).

I am planning to try several recipes of my new magazine, and already successfully started with this fennel one. It is again one of those unlikely, yet simple combinations that sounded slightly odd to me on paper but turned out quite fabulous! I think the secret of this recipe also lies in its cooking method: the fennels and mandarins are baked in the oven in a wrapping in which the flavours mix in a delicious way.

Fennels and mandarins in parchment paper

Serves 4

2 fennels (540 g)

4 organic mandarins

corn starch

sugar

dried chilli

extra virgin olive oil

salt

Trim the root ends of the fennels. Pluck each layer of the fennels separately and clean each piece with water. Keep the fronds (the green part resembling dill) in cold water for later use.

Slice two mandarins with peels into four slices each.

Dampen 2-3 sheets of parchment paper. Place the fennel pieces and mandarin slices in the middle of each parchment paper. Mix the olive oil, salt and dried chilli and sprinkle the mixture on the fennels. Create little packets of the parchment papers by wrapping their sides over the fennels and mandarins. Place them on an oven tray and cook at 200C for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, squeeze the juice of the two remaining mandarins and pour it into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add a pinch of salt and sugar and lightly thicken the sauce with a touch of corn starch mixed in cold water (I used about 3/4 teaspoons corn starch and 3/4 dl water).

Once cooked, open the packets, add the sauce to the fennels and garnish with the fronds.

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