Thursday, February 22, 2007

Braised fennel and tomatoes

Two heads of fennel arrived in the vegetable box yesterday. The recipe below is what I did with them, using up a carton of plum tomatoes (which were grown in Italy and bought in a supermarket -- but I am unable to dissuade my loved ones from buying them).

I used about 3 tbsp of vinegar, and boiled it down. But my wife found the dish too sharp. If there had been any black olives in the house, they would have gone into the mixture too.

I steamed the fennel before adding it to the other ingredients because the acidic environment would have inhibited softening.

There is an entry on grilled fennel here.

2 heads fennel
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 handfuls plum tomatoes, chopped
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Wash the fennel, throw away any discoloured bits, chop off the stalks, but retain the leaves. Cut the bulbs into vertical slices about 0.5 cm thick. It does not matter if the slices break up a little. Steam or boil for five minutes.

Soften the onion and garlic in the oil, adding more oil if the vegetables catch. When they are turning golden (after about 10 to 15 minutes), pour in the vinegar, let it bubble and reduce for a couple of minutes, and throw in the tomatoes. Tip in the fennel and fennel leaves as well, stir, add a little salt, and cover the pan. Simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 20 minutes, or until the fennel is soft and the tomatoes have broken down. If there is a lot of liquid, uncover the pan to let it evaporate, turning up the heat if necessary. You want the fennel to be coated in a tomatoey, oniony sludge.

Check the saltiness. Stir in the parsley, grind over pepper, and serve.

Two of us ate all of this, with cauliflower cheese.

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