Fennel Recipes

Great one for Christmas dinner

Discard roots and feathery bits of two heads of fennel. Slice them thinly. Fry gently in a little olive oil, until very soft (about 40 mins, low heat). Put into a food processor and whizz to a puree. A bit of pepper is good, but otherwise this is fine as it is. Reheat gently when required. Isn’t that easy! We have it with the stilton and walnut loaf we have for Christmas dinner, with all the other usual stuff.

Veg Soup

1tbsp sunflower oil

1 onion finely chopped

1 Leek finely chopped

1 carrot finely chopped

1 parsnip finely chopped

1 bulb fennel chopped

300g squash or you can use swede chopped

50g barley

1 litre veg stock

1 bouquet garni (I use bay leaf, sprig of thyme, parsley and rosemary from the garden tied with string)

Salt and ground pepper

Heat the oil in a fairly big saucepan, and cook onion till soft. Add all veg and the barley and cook slowly for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally the veg should sweat and start to soften.

Add the stock and bouquet garni and bring to the boil. Season and cover the pan simmer for 50 -60 minutes.

Remove bouquet garni and serve with chopped parsley sprinkled over.

I think it originally came from a vegetarian cookbook by Sarah Brown.

Braised Lamb Nicoise

1/2 large mild onion, sliced

2 bulbs fennel, trimmed & sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

knob of butter

550g (1 1/4lb) diced leg of lamb

450g (1lb) plum tomatoes, skinned & chopped

zest & juice of 1 orange

30ml (2 tbsp) crushed sun-dried tomatoes

salt & pepper

2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary

10 pitted black olives (optional)

1) Fry onion, fennel & garlic in olive oil and butter for about 10 mins until lightly browned. Drain & remove from pan.

2) Turn up heat and brown meat in pan.

3) Add tomatoes, orange zest & juice, sun-dried tomatoes & seasoning. Return onion & fennel to pan. Stirring, bring to the boil.

4) Spoon into a large casserole dish. Add rosemary. Cover & cook in a preheated over 180C/350F, gas mark 4, for 1/2 hour.

5) Uncover and cook for a further hour or until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally.

6) Remove rosemary, add olives and return to oven for 5 mins.

7) Garnish with plenty of chopped parsley

 

ROASTED RED PEPPERS STUFFED with FENNEL

SERVES 4 TO 6 PEOPLE AS A FIRST COURSE

The dish needs lots of really good bread as there’s always a profusion of fragrant juices.

4 large red peppers

2 small bulbs fennel

1 X 14 oz (400 g) tin Italian plum tomatoes

1 rounded teaspoon mixed pepper berries

¾ teaspoon whole coriander seeds

½ teaspoon fennel seeds

8 dessert spoons good quality olive oil

The juice of ½ lemon

Rock salt

You will need a shallow baking sheet (I use a Swiss roll tin).

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO GAS MARK 4, 350 ° F (180 ° C)

Slice each pepper in half lengthways, cutting right through the green stalk end and leaving it intact; though it won’t be eaten, it adds much to the look of the thing. Remove all the seeds. Place the pepper halves on the baking sheet, then drain the tomatoes (you don’t need the juice), and divide them into eight equal portions, placing each portion inside a pepper half. Now pare off any brownish bits of fennel with your sharpest knife and cut the bulbs first into quarters and then again into eighths, carefully keeping the layers attached to the root ends. Now put them in a saucepan with a little salt, pour boiling water on them and blanch them for 5 minutes. Then drain them in a colander and, as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, arrange two slices in each pepper half. Sprinkle 1 dessert spoon olive oil over each one, using a brush to brush the oil round the edges and sides of the peppers. Next lightly crush the pepper berries, coriander and fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar or rolling pin and bowl, sprinkle these evenly all over the fennel and peppers, and finish off with a grinding of rock salt. Then bake the peppers for approximately 1 hour on a high shelf in the oven until they are soft and the skin wrinkled and nicely tinged with brown. After removing them from the oven, sprinkle the lemon juice all over, cool and serve garnished with a little finely chopped spring onion or as they are.

NOTE: if you want to make the peppers ahead of time, cover with foil after cooling but don’t refrigerate them as this spoils the fragrant flavour.