For the next couple of months we are going to celebrate all the glorious seasonal veggies out there and write down all the super easy recipes, that we cook here at the house - for our guests or just for ourselves. These dishes are very often a full meal - maybe throw in some good bread, a little salad and a chunk of cheese.
Today it will be a little easy recipe, using an all time favorite in the house - the fennel - even though fennel is really at the hight of its season in the winter - these days it's an all year veggie - that can really boost the flavours in your kitchen. We eat them raw as prinziminio with strong olive oil and sea salt, in salads - the classic being with orange and green olives. But one of our favorites is to braised them till sweet surrender - and the fennel is one of these veggies that really benefit from a long and slow cooking. Being crisp, aniseed and fresh tasting as raw, the fennel turns super sweet, creamy and subtle when cooked until completely tender. Here there isn't any half measure - once you start to cook the dear thing - you have to cook it until well done....
In todays recipe, we slow cook the fennel with garlic, tomatoes and a few black olives and just a touch of water - they kind of cook in there own juices. We had this as a light lunch - but you could serve it on top of a bruschetta with some fresh ricotta as an antipasto or as a contorno for fish or chicken.
extra virgin olive oil
garlic, in thin slices
sea salt and black pepper
cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Start by cutting your fennel into smaller pieces. If you cut it in half first and then cut each into 4 wedges, making sure, that you cut through the root. This way the wedges will stay together during cooking. Keep the fennel tops for later use.
Heat some olive oil in a large pan, and place the fennel in the pan in one layer. Have the heat on medium to high and lightly brown the fennel on both sides. Once the fennel has taken on some colour, add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Let it cook for a few minutes. Now pour in some water - about 100 ml - depending on the size of your pan. Place a lid on the pan and let the fennel simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid, if you still have a lot of water in the pan , let it cook without the lid for a few minutes, so most of the water evaporates. Now add the tomatoes and olives, shake the pan, so they nestle in between the fennel. Cover with a lid and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. It's ready when the fennel is super tender and the tomatoes have created a little sauce in the base of the pan. Adjust the seasoning and remove from the heat. Drizzle generously with fresh olive oil and scatter of the chopped fennel tops.