Delicious Side Dish: Braised Fennel With Saffron and Tomato
Braised Fennel With Saffron and Tomato
I love the aromatic, sweet, anise taste of fennel—raw or cooked, as well as in toothpaste or chewing gum—but I understand not everybody is into its distinctive licorice flavor. Even so, you should try this great vegetarian (side) dish adapted from a sexy cookbook called Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, an authority on edible flora. The fennel gets braised, along with an onion, in a remarkably good saffron-tomato sauce, and the specific taste fades into the background. You can serve it as a side with a baked fish or pair it with white beans.
- Serves 4
- 2 large fennel bulbs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 clove garlic, peeled, minced
- Pinch saffron threads
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1½ cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- Wash the fennel, and cut off the stalks from the bulbs. Save the thin, feathery parts for a garnish. Halve each bulb, and cut into 1½-inch-wide wedges. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the fennel seeds, thyme, garlic and saffron, and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Add the fennel wedges and cook, stirring and turning them over, until they start changing color, about 4 minutes.
- Whisk the tomato paste, stock, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture into the skillet, stir, and cover with a lid. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the fennel becomes tender, about 15 minutes.
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