Saffron-Infused Fennel with a Walnut and Herb Crumb
A rather elegant and colourful presentation of fennel, this is a tribute to the beauty of this vegetable!
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
Trim off the darker green stems of the fennel bulbs and reserve any fronds. Slice the bulb from top to base, cutting crossways through the row of stems, into slices 1 cm (½ inch) 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 baking or casserole dish approx. 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inches),
Mix together the (ideally hot) stock, saffron and olive oil. Pour over the fennel. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
To prepare the walnut crumb mixture, whizz the parsley and rosemary with a pinch of salt in a food processor until very finely chopped or chop by hand. Add the walnuts and orange zest and whizz or chop to coarse crumbs.
After 20 minutes 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 minutes 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 minutes, until the crumb is lightly browned and the liquid is completely reduced, then serve hot or warm, garnished with any reserved fronds, chopped.
Options: Serve with mashed potatoes, couscous, or salt-baked celeriac.
“A rather elegant and colourful presentation of fennel, this is a tribute to the beauty of this vegetable. It’s an easy and impressive dinner party dish if you like to show off a little.”
Recipe from SuperVeg by Celia Brooks (Murdoch Books, £16.99). Photography by Jean Cazals.