This is a recipe I adapted from an original recipe developed by Chef Deborah Madison. The fennel and tomato meld beautifully to create a luxurious taste in your mouth. The addition of olives adds a nice salty contrast to the unique combination of flavor offered by the fennel and tomato. An unforgettable dish you will make often, I promise.
2 large fennel bulbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, or water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives (optional)
freshly ground pepper
minced fennel greens or fresh flat-leaf parsley to garnish
- Trim off the stalks and greens from the fennel bulbs. (Mince the greens for a garnish. If there are none, you can use parsley.) If the outer thick leaves of the bulbs look tough and scarred, as they often do, take a slice off the base to loosen them and set them aside for another use.
- Halve each bulb lengthwise and cut the halves into wedges about 1 1/2 inches at the widest part.
- Heat the olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium-high heat. When warm, add the onion and fennel seeds, crumble in the thyme. Cook for one minute to release the flavor of the fennel seeds and thyme.
- Add the onion and fennel wedges and cook them until golden, turning them occasionally so that each side is evenly browned.
- Once they are well colored, add the garlic, stir in the tomato paste and then add the stock and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Scrape the pan to release the juices from the bottom of the pan, then cover and simmer until the fennel is tender, another 15 minutes.
- remove the pan from the heat and stir in the kalamata olives (if using) and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the dish with fennel greens or parsley. Serve
Save the branches from the fennel bulb, put them in a parchment package and place some salmon on top and bake. The fennel branches impart beautiful moisture into the fish!