Fennel is one of those ingredients that still seems exciting and exotic, challenging me to try new combinations and create meals that are new to my palate.
I let it take me to places I haven”t yet been – I imagine lunch between the vines on warm summer evenings under ancient trees with family and friends, or Scandinavian winters, open fires and apres ski – melty cheesy baked fennel dishes. In reality I have traveled little in my life, but from my love of food, cooking and reading about the people, the cooks and the chefs – the places they come from and travel to – food has taken me, in my imagination to these places. Maybe not real but vivid and enchanting.
Winter in my world is at its best now, spring is around the corner and the days are starting to get longer. Knowing that the shortest days are past I am enjoying these last lingering evenings. This roast fennel dish is still warming but a little lighter after the heavier, comforting winter meals and could be easily eaten at room temperature on a summer evening.
This is leisurely cooking, simple and easily prepared at the end of the day while completing the necessary tasks of the day, or prepared as a simple light lunch.
ROAST FENNEL WITH TOMATOES CAPERS AND PRESERVED LEMON
Serves two people as a side dish or part of a light lunch, but can easily be doubled and more for a crowd.
Pre heat oven to approx. 180.c
- Two medium sized bulbs of fennel
- 8 – 10 small tomatoes quartered
- 4 tablespoons capers – dried on a paper towel
- 1 1/4 of preserved lemon – finely chopped
- Salt pepper and olive oil
- Optional handful of black or green olives
Suggestions to Serve
- Haloumi or feta cheese
- Fresh white fish
- Freshly toasted Ciabatta
- Boiled baby potatoes
- Simple green salad
Start by tossing your quartered tomatoes, finely chopped preserved lemon and dried capers in olive oil, salt and pepper. Put these on to a lined baking tray and cook for approx. 1/2 an hour until they are starting to wilt and dry out a little.
Cut fennel as much as you can, into fine wedges and toss with the olive oil. After the tomatoes have had an initial half an hour, add the fennel and put back in the oven for another 1/2 -3/4 of an hour.
Serve straight away hot or leave and eat at room temperature
I hope you can relax and enjoy some of these ideas and think ahead to those balmy summer evenings.