Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Fennel Recipe - How to Make It Less Like Marmite

It's a strange one, fennel. Looks lovely, but tastes of aniseed if eaten raw as in shredded for salad. Not my favourite way. (Don't like anise drinks either, but aniseed balls always desirable.) Cook it in an interesting way, though, and its flavour is far milder and a little like celery in consistency as well as taste. It's not that cheap a veg compared with, say, carrots - I paid 85p for one bulb at the greengrocer's - but cheaper than a large aubergine!

It's the old Marmite analogy - instinctively you either love it or hate it. But this recipe makes it delightful for some, and 'quite nice' for others (e.g. Mr P). I really don't think anyone could dislike the result. (Stand by for contradictions.)

The recipe is a variant of one found in the Cook supplement of the Observer, devised by leftoverliz (http://lizsleftovers.blogspot.co.uk). It takes about 30 mins from start to serving, and is prepared on the hob. The quantities make 2 good portions as a substantial side dish.

Fennel with Garlic and Orange Juice

1 tbsp oil - olive or rapeseed are good
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or finely chopped
1 tsp soft brown sugar (optional)
1 bulb of fennel, sliced fairly finely, slices halved (I remove fronds and base)
15g butter
120ml orange juice
Optional 10 pitted green olives, halved

1  Heat the oil in a medium pan and gently sautee the onion and garlic with the
         sugar for 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
2  Add the butter and stir to melt.
3  Add the fennel and orange juice, and simmer gently for 20 mins, stirring at times.
4  If using olives, stir them in just before serving.

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Mains that would go with this include vegburgers or sausages, pasties, and pasta. We had a quick dish of cooked penne, cheese sauce (yep, from a packet), grated Lyburn's Old Winchester cheese (like Parmesan), Dijon mustard, chopped walnuts and black pepper. Started at the same time as the fennel, took 20 mins, then into a hot oven for the last 10 mins to heat through so both ready at the same time. Thinking as a main dish, addition of a drained can of chick peas?