While rummaging today in the kitchen for something to make lunch, I thought, why don’t I put these ingredients together and see what happens? After all, they are from the same flavour palette and there is that saying… “if it grows together, it goes together!”
It would seem that today, I’m in need of comfort – in a fairly serious way, so with one of my fave British crime dramas playing in the background, I starting getting out everything to set up my work station. In that respect I don’t suppose much has changed since culinary school, where the most important thing is prepping your mise en place, that is, getting everything you need together – before you start cooking!
First, is picking out the proper cookware and having it ready on the stove. Then choosing the cutting board, knife and other tools needed – along of course, with a bowl for any unusable produce scraps, to be later added to the compost bucket.
That reminds me… any time you’re prepping fennel, for any recipe, do save some of the fronds for garnish. They’re feathery prettiness will also add freshness!
Next up was getting the produce from the fridge and as I reached for the fennel I noticed that while the bulb wasn’t large, the outside looked like I could get away with just a little peeling to clean it up, rather than removing the entire outer layer. It was going to be cut, and then cooked so even if it were a little fibrous it really shouldn’t matter.
While the fennel and onions were cooking I opened up this adorable can of baby tomatoes purchased from Lady York Foods, my fave/il mio preferito Italian grocer and put the cannellini beans on to drain. You could of course cook your beans from dried, but I’ll admit it’s not usually something I do during summer, and make do with perfectly acceptable good quality canned products.
Once the fennel is cooked, it’s another few minutes to add the remaining ingredients, cooking, stirring, and enjoying the aromas wafting up to greet you!
Proud to call this one of my own, it’s uses would be virtually endless. Served either warm or at room temperature all this needs is some good crusty bread and a glass of wine. It would also be buonissimo served over some short pasta, or soft polenta.
- 1/2 bulb fennel, outer leaves trimmed/peeled, then thinly cut in approx. 1/8” slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (use more as needed - fennel is usually quite dry)
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (use as required)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (use as required)
- 1 1/2 cups cannellini beans, drained
- 1 cup canned cherry tomatoes with sauce/juice (or use canned diced tomatoes with the juices)
- Garnish: fennel fronds and/or Italian parsley
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, then add the olive oil. When hot, add the fennel & onion, sprinkle with a large pinch of salt & pepper, and sauté, stirring occasionally until you see some browning/caramelization, about 10 minutes. (Add a bit more olive oil, if it seem dry.)
- Add the garlic & beans, and stir cooking for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes & sauce and simmer until heated through and somewhat thickened, approx 5 minutes. Taste & season with more salt & pepper, if needed.
- Great served warm or at room temperature.
- Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter.
- *Quantities are easily multiplied.