Nutri Natters

Rita’s blog for lovers of real food

Make the most of summer fruit and vegetables – part two

5th May 2019

To continue the theme of seasonal foods, here are a few ideas on how to prepare fennel – the aniseedy, leafy bulb that you either love or hate.  If you have never tried it, or want some new ideas on how to prepare it, here are some recipes that combine fennel’s distinctive flavour with other good-for-you foods.

The simplest no-cook way to serve fennel is to cut off the fronds and woody stems and grate it into a salad of green leaves – British rocket and watercress are in the shops now  – before dressing with oil and lemon, sprinkle on a handful of toasted cashews or pine nuts for a sophisticated starter.

If you want to tone down the aniseed kick of raw fennel, try roasting it with other vegetables for a colourful accompaniment to fish, meat or beans.

Roasted fennel
Prepare the fennel as before, chop into hearty chunks or daintier slices, depending on your cooking style. Peel and chop other roasting vegetables, such as sweet potato, red onion, carrots and red peppers, throw in some sprigs of rosemary and cook in a hot oven (180 dgrees C or Gas 4) for about 40 minutes.  Tip: Use olive oil or coconut oil for roasting or frying, as these are not so readily damaged by higher temperatures as other vegetable oils.

If you make more than you need, this vegetable medley is good cold the next day to add to a packed lunch.  Just add some chick peas, kidney beans chicken, cheese or fish and a slug of olive oil for an energy-boosting meal.

The next recipe makes a quick meal when you are pushed for time and combines the summer flavours of fennel, celery and green beans that go so well together.

Chick Pea and Fennel Stew (serves 2/3)

Tin chick peas, drained and rinsed
Olive oil or coconut oil
1 clove garlic
2 sticks celery
1 head of fennel,
8oz green beans (optional)
½ pint veg stock
1 tbsp fresh chopped mint or parsley

Prepare the fennel by chopping off the woody stems and cut the bulb into bite-sized chunks. Chop the celery and green beans.
Heat a dessertspoon of coconut oil or olive oil in a pan and stir the vegetables on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until they become transluscent.  Add the chick peas and stir the stew for 2-3 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a gentle boil.  Cover the pan and simmer for 15-20 mins.  Add the garlic just before serving and sprinkle the stew with chopped herbs.  Serve with brown basmati rice or quinoa.

For a posh casserole to bring to the table, cook the mixture in an ovenproof dish with the lid on at (180 degrees C or Gas 4) for about 30 minutes.