Thursday, March 8, 2012

Roasted Fennel with Tomatoes and Chickpeas (and a bonus "recipe")

I saw this recipe on Aarti Sequeira's blog, and immediately bookmarked it for Lent.  I loved the combination of ingredients, and it looked a cinch to prepare.  

I was right.  Just a few swishes with my big knife, 8 ingredients,and 45 minutes...I had a pot of healthy, roasted vegetables, perfect for a cold, rainy night, especially since the weather thwarted my attempt to walk 2x around the lake. :-)  Ah well.  Still, I really loved this dish.'s healthy too!

And...a bonus for's what I made for David's lunch yesterday.  Remember when I told ya'll I was trying to make sure he had lunch to take to work every day?  I haven't been 100% successful, but I'm doing fairly well.  I went to the store, and bought a pound of 21-25 shrimp, and made David a nice salad.  I put the poached shrimp on a bed of freshly harvested lettuce from the garden, added in some lemon, tomato, and a container of cocktail sauce.  That's how he eats shrimp...he'll dip 'em all up first, and then eat the rest of the meal like a salad. ;-)'s the recipe I promised you first.  If you're not sure about the strong, licorice-like taste of raw fennel...have no fear.  A aggressive roasting in the oven mellows this root vegetable into sublime submissiveness...and you'll just be amazed, I promise!

Roasted Fennel with Tomatoes and Chickpeas 
adapted from aartipaarit

1/3 cup olive oil
2 large or 3 medium fennel bulbs, washed well (save the fronds!)
5 large roma tomatoes (or 2 pints grape/cherry tomatoes, left whole)
salt and black pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lemon
Crusty, toasted bread (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425. 

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, oven-proof skillet.  I used my big, trusty, Dutch oven, since I didn't have anything worked great.  *You cannot use a non-stick skillet for this recipe, because the coating isn't safe to go into the oven.  A well-seasoned, cast iron skillet is fine, but keep in mind the tomatoes will draw some iron into the dish...not the worst thing in the world, but it may alter the taste of your finished dish.  I decided to play it safe.

Trim the tops of the fennel, but keep the root end intact.  Cut each bulb into quarters (mine were pretty big, so I cut them into sixths).  Chop up a handful of the fennel fronds and set aside. 

When the oil is hot, lay in the fennel, and let them sit for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on both sides.  

Cut the roma tomatoes into quarters, and add to the pot.  Gently stir once or twice.  Season with salt and pepper, and then place the pot into the oven for 30 minutes.   

Now is a good time to grill/toast up some crusty bread, brushed with a bit of olive oil.  

After 30 minutes, throw in the chickpeas, red pepper flakes, and cumin.  Stir very gently one more time, taking care not to break up the tomatoes too much.  

Put back in the oven for 5 more minutes (honestly, I just finished it on the stove :-). 

Zest the lemon, and squeeze the juice out.  When the pot comes back out of the oven, add in the juice and zest, the reserved fennel fronds, and a bit more salt if you'd like.  

Once again, I forgot to take a picture of the finished tugging on my know how that goes...thanks for understanding. ;-)

Serve immediately in bowls to take advantage of the delicious tomato juices.  I highly recommend some grilled bread to sop up those juices, they're SO GOOD.  

Ah...this was delicious...I know it doesn't look impressive, but simple homey food tastes the best, don't you agree?  

So there's not one, but 2 ideas for you for a meatless Friday.  God bless your table tonight!

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