Fun with Fennel

I have re-fallen in love with fennel after having it served to us gourmet style in Spain over the course of our vacation. It has such wonderful flavor. I happen to have a recipe that features fennel and is also an amazingly wonderful dish. The recipe is for the vegetables/legumes and sauce that you can put over any grain, pasta or a Socca Bread (see recipe). It is an impressive dish to serve guests or just a wonderful meal for family. The leftover vegetables and sauce taste great the next day over a salad (my lunch today, actually). Last night, we had this over barley. It was delicious!

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped red pepper

3 cups cubed zucchini or yellow squash

1-1 1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 1 med. bulb)

1/2 c. dried apricots, chopped or 1 cup fresh figs, stems removed and halved

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2-2 tbsp GOOD olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (a bit more if you like the flavor of cumin a lot)

3/4 tsp ground (dried) ginger

1/2 tsp paprika (could do a dash more)

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas or white beans (I double this for extra protein)

1/2 c. packed fresh basil, minced (not necessary if you can’t find it – this time of year it’s hit-or-miss – you can just leave this out)

1/4 cup slivered or chopped toasted almonds (optional) for garnish

If your grains take a long time to cook, get those started before you begin with the vegetables. Preheat oven to 425. Line a wide-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place bell peppers, zucchini, onion, fennel, apricots and garlic in a large mixing bowl and toss with oil, cumin, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet and roast in oven for 25-35 minutes, tossing once or twice, until veggies are carmelized in some spots and softened. The smell will get you SO hungry! 🙂 While these are roasting, make the sauce. When veggies are done, remove from the oven, toss in chickpeas or white beans and fresh basil (if using). Serve with sauce over the grain or pasta of your choice. I do think grains soak in the flavor better.

Sauce: (may want to double this… it’s great)

1/4 c. pure maple syrup

1/4 c. GOOD balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. earth balance buttery spread (not necessary)

1 clove garlic (minced)

1 tsp. arrowroot powder (find at Harvest Health or Gordon Foods has it in their spice section)

3 tbsp. tamari

In a saucepan, over low heat, combine maple syrup, vinegar, earth balance spread (if using), and garlic. Heat for several minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine arrowroot and tamari, stirring through until well incorporated. Add tamari mixture to saucepan and wisk to combine. Increase heat to bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Let boil gently for 1 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool slightly. Mixture will thicken as it cools. This sauce is very sweet – so use sparingly.

To serve, put a spoonful of grains on the plate. Cover with the veggie mixture and drizzle with sauce. Oh my… enjoy.

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