For the next 6 months, I Heart Cooking Clubs will be cooking with Donna Hay, well known Australian cookbook author, magazine editor and food stylist whose approach to cooking is fast, fresh and simple food, one that's very appealing to me. I've never had the pleasure of trying any of her recipes and I'm looking forward to it.
To welcome her to IHCC, I made the appetizer Goat's Cheese Wontons with Caramelised Tomato and Fennel Salad, a multi-component dish that takes remarkably little time to prepare.
The baked wontons were what really drew me to this recipe...who can resist savoury baked pastries after all? Filled with goat's cheese and basil, they came together very quickly and after a basting with some olive oil*, were baked until crisp and golden.
While the wontons baked, I went about caramelizing the tomato and fennel. The method used was easy and worked perfectly: the slices of fruit and vegetable were placed on a bed of brown sugar, then transferred to a hot pan (sugar side down) where the the surfaces became sticky-sweet and golden brown in just minutes. Balsamic vinegar was used to deglaze the pan and was then cooked until slightly thickened.
The components worked very well together on the plate: the wontons provided crunch and creaminess in a single bite; the caramelized tomatoes and fennel were sweet and succulent; the arugula was crisp and peppery and the balsamic dressing, sweet and tangy.
I really enjoyed this dish and was impressed with how little effort it took to make, and I'm definitely going to use that super quick and easy method of caramelizing vegetables in other recipes. It looks like Donna and I are off to great start!
- * I used olive oil on the wonton packages but the recipe calls for melted butter which actually produces a much better golden brown finish, something I discovered when I used butter on the leftover wrappers that I filled with chocolate-hazelnut spread
- don't forget to salt the tomatoes, fennel and arugula
If you would like to try this recipe, it can be found here.
Visit IHCC to see what other members have made to wish a G'day to Donna Hay.