Almost 5 years ago, I was living in Florence, Italy. For the last month that I lived there, I shared a very small, but adorable, apartment with Danielle, an awesome girl from New York City. We lived near Basilica di San Lorenzo, across from Mercato Centrale, an incredible indoor farmer's market. It was at this market that I first met fennel. Perhaps we had met before then, but I have no recollection of our introduction. Mercato Centrale was the first place I ever picked up fennel and brought it home with me. I could not get enough of fennel. Almost daily, I brought 1-2 bulbs home.
I did not have much money, so I ate pretty cheaply. Occasionally, Danielle and I would share a pizza, or we would eat very lightly from the apertivo offered at a local bar (it's free if you buy a glass of wine!), but we mostly ate at home. Our kitchen was extremely tiny and also housed our washer/dryer, so getting too extravagant with cooking was not an option. For most dinners, I would eat an entire raw fennel bulb, accompanied by nothing but some canned white beans cooked with a diced tomato, and possibly some bread. Sometimes I would switch it up by cooking the fennel with the white beans, but I actually preferred it in its raw state. I only vaguely remember some of the nicer meals I ate, when I actually went to a restaurant, but my fennel and white beans I remember vividly as being my favorite.
This wrap is the embodiment of my poor girl dinners in Florence, just fancied up a bit. The fennel isn't raw, there's some beautiful chard added in (both from our CSA), and there's a tortilla in place of the freshly baked bread. Then I took it up an extra notch and made some tofu sour cream to dollop onto it (you could also put it inside the wrap). It may not transport you to Florence, circa 2007, but it definitely succeeded in making me a little homesick.
TOFU SOUR CREAM
makes about 1 cup
- ½ package of silken tofu (the vacuum packed kind), about 6 oz.
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp white miso
- 1 tsp vegan mayonaise (optional)
- In the bowl of a food processor, process all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep for about 2 days.
FENNEL, WHITE BEAN & CHARD WRAP
makes 4 wraps
- 1 T olive oil
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 fennel bulb, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 14oz can of white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 14oz can of fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch of chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 4 flour (or gluten-free) tortillas
- In a large shallow, saucepan, heat oil over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent. Add the fennel and sauté for about 3-5 more minutes, until fennel is slightly translucent as well. Add the white beans, tomatoes, and spices and mix to combine. Cook for about 2-3 more minutes, to let it all heat up, and then mix in the chard. Continue to cook until the chard is just wilted. Remove from heat.
- Heat your tortillas over a stove burner, or in a pan on the stove, over medium-low heat, just giving each side a minute or two. Scoop about 1 – 1-¼ cup of the bean mixture onto each tortilla. Fold the outer ends of the tortilla over, and using the edge of the tortilla closest to you, roll up, burrito-style. Serve warm with sour cream.
It's pretty amazing to me how are brains associate taste and smell with very specific memories. Are there foods that transport you to another time and place in your life? What are they?
All Photos by Chris Miller
© Kristy Turner and Keepin' It Kind, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (content and images) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kristy Turner and Keepin' It Kind with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
I LOVE raw fennel with vegan olive tapenade - so yum!
Your wrap looks delicous and I loved reading the story behind it 🙂
Thank you, Heather! I love the idea of olive tapenade with fennel- I'm going to have to give that a try sometime!
The photos are lovely (as usual)! The wraps sound divine. Florence! How lucky! It's a magical place!
Thanks, Annie- I'll pass the compliment on to Chris! 🙂 And Florence is wonderful- so blessed to have spent some time there.
CJ at Food Stories
I love your fancied up fennel 🙂
Tofu sour cream?? Awesome! I'm so excited to try this.
Thanks! I'm excited for you to try it too! 🙂
isn't funny how the simplest meals are often the ones that stick with us forever? i love this story that you shared. your "cheap" eating sounds so romantic and lovely when imagining it in the backdrop of italy. i imagine you eating your simple but delicious meal of fennel and white beans sitting on top of a checkered sheet-covered hardwood floor in your small italian apartment.
your adaptation of the meal into wrap form looks hearty and delicious. cheers to happy memories abroad!
Thank you, Caitlin. That's so true! The simplest meals are the ones we return to time and time again. It's funny that you imagined me sitting on the floor, because that's where I often ate, or I just stood at the kitchen counter. Either way, looking back, it does sound awfully romantic!
that isnt a simple meal at all.. so much deliciousness going on in there! i totally agree.. when out of ideas or tired, i always come back to the simplest meal.. my hands will make me a daal even when i am half asleep:)
Thank you, Richa! Your sleepy daal sounds pretty darned delicious too! 🙂
I never heard of a vegan version of sour cream, but this looks great.
It is great! Thank you!
Man, my "To-Make" list keeps getting longer and longer, thanks to you 🙂 That sour cream sounds SO MUCH better than the vegan stuff they sell at the stores--excited to try it! Next time we hang out, you are cooking 🙂 ha!
Awww! I would love to have you over- It's a date! I'll cook if you bring the dessert! 🙂
You've inspired me again (hope you don't mind!) I couldn't believe how good the fennel tasted cooked. I always use it raw, but you've changed my mind with this wrap. You can see my version here: http://kaleeats.blogspot.ca/2012/07/fennel-chard-lentil-wrap.html
your photos are amazing.
Yay! I love that! Yours sounds so good with the lentils- I think that will be a must for the next time I make this! Thank you for the inspiration, Catherine! 🙂
Oh my god I loved this. So much. Slight sub: for sour cream, I used tofutti cream cheese, added cider vinegar, lemon, and chopped kalamata olives, no miso. Worked great.
I just became vegan after being a more or less life-long vegetarian, and I have to say, you have a lot of recipes that I'm going to try. Especially now that I know how great this one was. Thank you!
That's so wonderful to hear! And great tip! Thanks for sharing, Audrey! 🙂