An elegant and colourful tribute to fennel
This is an easy and impressive dinner party dish, if you like to show off a little.
2 large or 4 small fennel bulbs (about 700g untrimmed weight)
175ml vegetable stock, or hot water mixed with ¾ tsp stock powder
3 large pinches of saffron strands
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A large handful of fresh parsley
5cm sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped
1 tsp orange zest
Preheat the oven to 220C. Trim off the darker green stems of the fennel bulbs and reserve any fronds. Slice the bulb from top to base, cutting crosswise through the row of stems, into slices 1cm thick. You should have about 8 slices or 10-12 slices total from smaller bulbs. Reserve any extra pieces for another use. Lay the slices in a 20cm x 30cm baking dish.
Mix together the (ideally hot) stock, saffron and olive oil. Pour over the fennel. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 mins.
To prepare the walnut crumb mixture, whizz the parsley and rosemary with a pinch of salt in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add the walnuts and orange zest and whizz to coarse crumbs.
After 20 mins baking, take the dish from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Use a large spoon to baste the fennel with the cooking liquid. Return the dish to the oven without the foil and reduce the liquid for about 10 mins more, until the liquid is almost gone but not quite.
Remove the dish again and spoon the walnut crumb on top of each slice of fennel. Return to the oven and cook for 5-10 mins, until the crumb is lightly browned and the liquid is completely reduced. Serve hot or warm, garnished with chopped reserved fronds.
Recipe: Celia Brooks
Image: Jean Cazals
SuperVeg by Celia Brooks (Murdoch Books)