Grilled oysters with fennel and spinach topping

    28 min

    For some people, just slipping oysters down raw is the only way to eat them, but if you prefer them cooked, this is a great way to prepare them. Topped with a mixture of potato, fennel and spinach, they make a substantial starter. Ask the fishmonger to open the oysters for you. Serve with warm pitta bread slices.

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    Serves: 4 

    • 16 oysters in the shell, opened and top shell discarded
    • 30 g (1 oz) butter
    • 1 shallot, finely chopped
    • 100 g (3½ oz) potato, peeled and finely diced
    • 100 g (3½ oz) bulb of fennel, finely diced
    • 100 g (3½ oz) spinach, torn into pieces
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
    • salt and pepper
    • lemon wedges to serve

    Prep:25min  ›  Cook:3min  ›  Ready in:28min 

    1. Check the oysters to make sure there are no bits of shattered shell on them. Arrange them, on their half shells, in four individual flameproof dishes, or on one large dish, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Propping the shells with crumpled foil will prevent them from tipping.)
    2. Preheat the grill to moderate. Heat the butter in a frying pan, add the shallot and cook over a gentle heat for 2 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the diced potato and fennel and cook gently for 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
    3. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1–2 minutes or until the spinach has just wilted. Add the lemon juice, parsley and seasoning to taste. Spoon 1 tbsp of the mixture over each oyster.
    4. Cook the oysters under the grill for 3 minutes or until the topping is tinged brown. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges.

    Some more ideas

    For a spicy almond topping, use 55 g (2 oz) slivered almonds instead of potatoes. Roughly chop the nuts in a blender or food processor, or by hand, and mix with 1–2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, ½ small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp paprika and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add this mixture to the cooked shallot and fennel, together with 55 g (2 oz) white breadcrumbs and the juice of ½ lemon. Mix well, then add the spinach and finish as in the main recipe. * Replace the fennel and spinach with 55 g (2 oz) smoked back bacon, finely chopped, and 100 g (3½ oz) Savoy cabbage, finely shredded. Add some toasted cumin seeds or caraway seeds for extra flavour.

    Plus points

    Oysters have long been linked with aphrodisiac powers, probably because they are an excellent source of zinc which is essential for growth and sexual maturity. * Although spinach appears to be an excellent source of iron, the iron isn't easily absorbed by the body. However, the vitamin C from the lemon juice in this recipe will help the absorption.

    Each serving provides

    B1, B6, B12, niacin, copper, zinc * A, iron * C, folate, calcium, potassium

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