Fennel smells of licorice but doesn’t impart a licorice flavor to food (that’s a relief!). It is an underrated vegetable and you don’t often see it on menus. It is nice when cooked but equally makes a good crunch in a salad (see my recipe for Fennel, Celery, Avocado and Lemon Chicken Salad). If you can’t find San Marzano tomatoes you can use any canned tomatoes but you might need to add a little tomato paste to ensure a good tomatoey flavor.I am still enjoying using my Preserved Lemon Paste from NY Shuk (mentioned in my June 2020 Newsletter which you can subscribe to on this website by leaving your email address – it’s free). You need just a tiny bit – 1/2 tsp. If you don’t have this ingredient substitute fresh lemon juice – try 1/2 tbsp. and build up if necessary.
1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion – finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic – grated
1 medium head of fennel – finely sliced
14 oz. San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 tsp. preserved lemon paste or 1/2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot but not sizzling as you want the onion just to soften, not brown. Add the onion and cook till softened (about 5 minutes) then add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.
Tip the sliced fennel into the pan and stir then pour in the tomatoes and crush with a potato masher.
Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer, cover with a glass lid and cook for 15 – 20 minutes