Fennel raw in the warmer parts of Autumn is a must; fennel braised, roasted, pureed, baked, grilled or otherwise cooked in Winter is so heavenly.
Today, slow baked in olive oil and lemon juice – almost cooked a la Grecque – is a suitably Wintery dish for this weather. Enlivened with a Roast Vegetable Salt and Orange Zest, and replacing some of the lemon with pomegranate vinegar, set the scene for a Sunday lunch.
Also try Fava.
Slow Baked Fennel with Chilli and Garlic, Finished with Orange Zest
2 medium to large bulbs fennel, or equivalent smaller fennel bulbs
150 ml olive oil
juice 1.5 lemons (or 1 lemon if it is juicy, use your judgement)
3 – 4 garlic cloves
1 fresh red chilli, chopped, or to taste
finely grated zest of an orange
Heat the oven to 140C.
Trim the fennel, reserving the green fronds. Cut them into eighths if they are large, sixths if they are medium, and quarters if they are small.
Place the fennel into an oven proof dish, grate a little orange zest over it, and then drizzle the oil all over the bulbs. Chop the garlic and place around the fennel; do the same with the chilli. Squeeze the lemon juice over the bulbs.
Cover the dish with a tight fitting lid or with foil. Bake in the oven for 2 hours – remove and check. If the fennel needs further cooking, place back in the oven for a further 30 mins.
Sprinkle sea salt over the fennel. Garnish with chopped fennel fronds, and a tiny bit more orange zest. Serve.
I used pomegranate vinegar in place of the lemon juice. Don’t use as much, though. It gives a delightful tang.
This time some roast vegetable salt from Gerwurzhaus added another layer for flavour. I love their salts.
(This is my opinion only and I have not been solicited to mention their products nor have I received anything in return for the mention.)
An alternative is to slice the fennel thinly and cook similarly, stir in the chopped fennel fronds, and then puree after the fennel is cooked.