Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Fennel and Onion Saute (Pasta Optional)

I had decided a while back to see what happened when I sauteed fennel and onion together.  I knew the onion would get sweeter, and assumed the fennel would too, but I wasn’t 100% sure.  As it turned out, it was pretty good.  It would have been great, but I experimented with some saffron, only to realize that I don’t actually LIKE saffron all that much.  So then I had to compensate with some other strong tastes.  *shrug*  Live and learn!  It was still pretty good, just not GREAT.  But I’d make it again, especially leaving out the saffron!

2-3 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 can anchovies, drained
pinch red pepper flakes
2 small onions, sliced
2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced
1 tsp capers
1 tsp caper brine
1 tsp whole-grain mustard
juice from 1/2 lemon OR splash of white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste – optional
Fresh, grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling – optional
(NO pinch of saffron.  ;))

The Recipe:
In a large saucepan, heat the oil.  Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper and allow to heat. Mash the anchovies into a sauce with the back of a spoon (it’ll work, I swear).  Add the sliced onions and fennel, and toss well.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring periodically.  When the fennel and onions are nice and soft, add the remaining ingredients and heat through. 

If you want to add substance to the meal, cook some whole-wheat pasta and toss the whole shebang together.  Taste, add salt and pepper if you want it (you might not – anchovies are salty and the red pepper will give it some kick), and some Parmesan cheese on top.

How Did it Go?
All things considered, it went well.  I originally added a teeny bit of saffron right after the onions and fennel.  It took me several minutes to figure out what the weird taste was in my vegetables!  (In my defense, I wasn’t sure if it was the fennel, since I’d never cooked fennel that way.  But it wasn’t.)  At that point I figured I was going to need some strong tastes to counter the saffron, which is why there are capers and mustard in this.  But honestly, even with the saffron, it was pretty good – one of those things where it isn’t to MY taste, but I can tell that other people would like it.  So if you know you like saffron, by all means leave it in, and leave out the capers and brine.  (I think the mustard would still work.)

I did end up tossing it with some pasta just to give it some heft and stretch it out a few days, but you could also increase the overall quantities and just eat a big pile of veggies.  Sausages would be good sliced into this too (the German or Italian kind, not the breakfast kind).  And it was really pretty to look at, with the pale green of the fennel against the creamy color of the onions.  Sort of monochromatic, which I like, but if you hate that sort of thing, just use red onions for more color.  😉


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