Rediscovering best-loved recipes and trying new ones. That is what I have been doing for the past month.
Before that, for about a year, my husband and I lived with his parents. Most of our belongings went into storage, and my routine of cooking daily meals got tucked away too. When we moved into our own apartment at the end of July, I began to dig through boxes and pull out treasured teacups, brightly colored bowls and wooden spoons worn down to ideal smoothness. I also began to dig out cookbooks and remember favorite recipes.
This Tomato, Fennel and Mozzarella Skillet Dish is one of them. I started making it two or three years ago, after I picked up Simply in Season, a cookbook from the Mennonite Central Committee, the same people who produced the better known More-with-Less cookbook. I believe the subtitle of Simply in Season could be “how to make any kind of vegetable taste amazing.”
Case in point: fresh fennel. It is one of this dish’s key features, and I had never cooked with it before sautéing it in this recipe. The anise flavor of the fennel blends well with fresh tomatoes, briny olives and the salty creaminess of mozzarella. If you love Greek salads, you’ll find many favorite flavors here.
When you use Conebella Farm mozzarella for this dish, you will know that it is truly a fresh cheese. Don and Pam have it made fresh every other week! Since the mozzarella must be made fresh, it does tend to sell out quickly, so it’s wise to preorder by contacting Pam at Gable@ConebellaFarm.com. And be sure to use the cheese soon after you purchase it. The mozzarella lasts three weeks if unopened, but, like all fresh cheese, it will spoil quickly once opened. Pam has frozen the fresh, unopened mozzarella with success and suggests this as an option if you can’t use the cheese right away.
You will also know that the creaminess and saltiness of this cheese are perfectly balanced. Don and Pam taste-tested early versions of the mozzarella to be sure it achieved this harmony– one that this recipe makes good use of.
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- Juice of half a lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1½ cups Conebella Farm Fresh Mozzarella (chopped into chunks) or a mix of mozzarella and crumbled feta
- ½ cup green or kalamata olives
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- Brown rice
- Cook rice according to package directions.
- Saute fennel and onion until very tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add lemon juice and tomatoes. Stir and cook until tomatoes are just tender (not stewed). Remove from heat and add cheese and olives.
- Sprinkle basil on top.
- Serve over rice.