When I first saw this recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's wonderful book Plenty, I was a little skeptical. It looked gorgeous, but the idea of sweetening fennel with sugar somehow sounded a bit off to me. But then after the lovely Joanne at Eats Well With Others made it a while back, and raved about it, it had to go on my "must make" list.
I'm sure it comes as no surprise that it's a very long list indeed, but just to prove that things on the list do eventually get made, when I saw beautiful little fresh fennel bulbs at the local farmers market the other day, I knew the time had arrived to move this dish off the list and on to a plate. What's more this seemed like the perfect dish to share for our Pot Luck theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs.
I made a couple of small changes to the original recipe. I left out butter since I am on a "no dairy" kick at the moment. Now, I'm sure it would taste fantastic with the butter - of course, anything sizzled in butter does. Heck, you could probably caramelise a piece of boot leather in butter and it would taste great. But seriously, this dish was great without it, and I didn't miss it at all. I also replaced sugar with honey. And, when it came to serving time, I tossed in a little thinly sliced preserved lemon and a handful of olives, and called it dinner. I think a handful of toasted pine nuts or hazelnuts would also make a good addition if you felt so inclined.
The honeyed fennel is definitely a surprising combination, but a delightful surprise and I'll certainly be making it again. The sweetness with the aniseed flavour of the fennel somehow really works and, partnered with the crunch of fennel seeds and the slight saltiness of the goat cheese, Ottolenghi has come up with another winning combination of tastes and textures.
Caremelised Fennel with Goat Cheese Recipe
Adapted (slightly) from recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
4x small fennel bulbs
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 clove garlic, crushed
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
goat cheese, as much as you like
extra virgin olive oil to finish
Remove any tough outer leaves, and a little bit of the woody stem from the base of the fennel bulbs. Remove the fronds from the tops, and reserve a generous handful of the fronds. Cut the fennel bulbs lengthwise into 1cm (1/2 in) slices.
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan set over medium heat. Add slices of fennel in a single layer to the pan, and cook until lightly golden on both sides. You will probably have to do this in a couple of batches. Remove cooked fennel slices to a plate.
Add honey to the pan, along with the fennel seeds, garlic, a generous pinch of flaky sea salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir to dissolve the honey. Then return the fennel to the pan, and toss gently for a few minutes to ensure every piece is coated in the honey sauce, and the fennel is cooked through to tender, but still retaining a little bite.
Remove to a serving platter, and allow to cool a little before sprinkling over some of the crumbled goat cheese, and a good handful of the roughly chopped reserved fennel fronds. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Equally delicious served still warm or at room temperature.
If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Plenty and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.
I'm also sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, at My Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya at My Sweet and Savory, and Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollam.
Oh my, that is a gorgeous dish! Such beautiful color on the fennel. It really does look mouthwatering to me.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Kim. It was so delicious, I really wished it hadn't taken me so long to get around to making it.Delete
I think I'd like this. I've made a pear-fennel slaw that had honey in the dressing, but I like the idea of a hot dish like this one. It sure looks beautiful!ReplyDelete
Joy's Book Blog
Thanks, Joy. I love the sound of pear & fennel slaw with a honey dressing too - I think pear and fennel would be wonderful together.Delete
Wow! COuldn't be better timing. I have both fennel and goat cheese in the house. And I own the cookbook. Must make this tonight!ReplyDelete
That is very serendipitous timing, Beth. I hope you enjoy it.Delete
I love caramelized fennel and I liked the bites with the fennel seed best of all when I made this dish a while ago. I remember thinking it needed lemon juice but your idea of adding the pickled lemons is much better.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Zosia - I loved the bit of crunch and pops of flavour from the fennel seeds too. I definitely enjoyed the addition of the preserved lemon.Delete
Oh this sounds so good and so easy. I love Ottolenghi and have tried a few of his recipes, but this one I haven't even noticed. Oops. I'll have to give it a try, though. I love fennel.ReplyDelete
This one is a great dish, Lena, and if you enjoy Ottolenghi's food, then I'm sure you would love this dish also. Thanks for visiting - I hope you'll stop by again :-)Delete
This is a beautiful dish! You know, I have never tried fennel before! Have always wanted to, using honey is a lovely alternative to sugar, I think I would prefer honey too!
Wonderful potluck dish!
Thanks, Joyce. If you can get your hands on some fennel, you should give it a try. It is a delicious vegetable, both raw and cooked, and has a delightfully mild aniseed taste, which worked surprising well with the honey. Maybe fennel is not grown in your part of the world, Joyce?Delete
Hmmm...I haven't experimented with fennel much, but paired with the goat cheese (one of my new obsessions) this sounds delish!ReplyDelete
Kerry Ann, if you're currently nursing a goat cheese obsession, I'm sure you'd enjoy it paired with the fennel. Thanks for visiting - hope you'll stop by again :-)Delete
This is a dish that I would love, but alas, my picky husband would not. I will be bookmarking this for a night during hunting season when he is off with his brothers in the woods and I am ensconced with a girlfriend in the kitchen for a 'chick dinner'. It sure looks beautiful in that white dish!ReplyDelete
Susan, this would be a great dish for "chicks night in". I ate it on a "solo night" too, as it's definitely not the kind of thing I could get past a certain person around here.Delete
This looks so wonderful with the beautifully coloring on the fennel and all that lovely goat cheese. I need to bookmark this one to make--I am thinking I could eat just a big plate of it for dinner. ;-)ReplyDelete
Deb, I confess to eating the whole thing for dinner too. I had thought I might have some leftovers for lunch the next day ... but, nada, I made such a pig of myself there wasn't a skerrick left over.Delete
Sue, your photos are absolutely beautiful! The first one looks like it comes straight out of a magazine. I've only cooked with fennel a handful of times and have never seen anything like this. Thank you for linking this week.ReplyDelete
I completely spaced out on the last potluck. I planned a Tyler Florence recipe...but that was back before IHCC was IHCC! I'm a goofball like that sometimes :-)
Thanks so much, Michelle. Personally I think my photos still have a heck of a long way to go, but I have been working on it, and I think they've definitely improved a lot from the attempts that used to appear here when I first started blogging.Delete