Braised Fennel with Saffron and Tomato

It’s really hard not to complain about the weather. Go on Twitter for any length of time and you’ll find that out.

Warming and nutritious dinners should be part of every Brit’s repertoire to cope with our so called summer. You can take advantage of the fresh vegetables that come with the warmer months but work them into something that will warm you from the inside when you’ve been caught in the rain without a coat on.

This braised fennel recipe is taken from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy cookbook, and I found it over on A Sweet Spoonful’s blog. The book sounds excellent, being as I cook a lot of vegetarian food it’s nice to see a book dedicated to preparing vegetables, turning them into dishes that will rival anything with meat. I’ve just ordered it!

Chunks of fennel are slowly braised in a rich and sweet tomato sauce flavoured with herbs and saffron with garlic and capers for extra punch. We had it with some fresh wholemeal bread. It was really satisfying, warming and felt very nutritious. The only sub I made was to use a tin of plum tomatoes instead of tomato puree, as I wanted more sauce to dunk my bread in.

Braised Fennel with Saffron & Tomato
Serves 2

1 large fennel bulb
olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
1 teaspoon of fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme or small handful of fresh, chopped
pinch of saffron strands
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
1 tin of plum tomatoes, pureed
1 tablespoon of capers
200ml vegetable stock
reserved fennel fronds, to garnsih

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a medium heat in a large wide saucepan and then add the onions once the oil is hot. Fry for 2 minutes and then add in the fennel seeds, thyme and saffron. Continue to fry on a lower heat for 5 minutes or so til the saffron releases it’s colour.

2. Slice your fennel bulb along the length in to large chunks, making sure to keep the core intact so it doesn’t fall apart during cooking. Add to the pin and fry til golden.

3. Then add in the garlic, tomatoes, capers, salt and stock.

4. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes til the fennel is tender, season to taste. Serve in bowls with the fennel fronds to garnish.

Serve with fresh bread, or as Sweet Spoonful suggests with some quinoa and crumbled cheese.

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