What a delicious side to meat or standalone vegetarian dish! I made this to go alongside my brined pork chops in citrus sauce, which I shared last week, and then ate the leftovers as a light lunch all weekend. Lucky me that a co-worker was looking to get rid of fennel from their farm share, and that’s what inspired this recipe! Despite not really liking licorice, I love fennel and have ever since I studied abroad. Italians are all over it. The fragrance mellows quite a bit when you cook and blends nicely with contrasting flavors like cider vinegar, red onion, savory stock and a touch of butter.
I’ve hung onto the greens in the past when making soup, and I’ve heard that it makes a slammin’ pesto, too, though I haven’t tried that myself. Generally, though, you just want to keep the “bulb” part of fennel, which you slice up any which way you please before cooking. I love that this recipe offers a protein boost with the white beans, another staple of Italian cooking, and that the cooking process softens the bite of the red onions enough that they just add a nice seasoning and don’t overwhelm. Paired with the vinegar and a touch of butter, this comes in a creamy sauce seasoned with oregano or whatever Italian-type spices you have on hand. The last time I made this, I used my Wildtree spaghetti sauce blend, and it came out fab.
Braised Fennel & White Beans
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped/sliced, greens discarded
- 1 medium red onion, sliced
- 1 can of white (cannellini) beans
- 1 can chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 TBSP butter (omit if desiring a vegan dish)
- 2 TBSP red wine or apple cider vinegar
- olive oil for the pan
- salt, pepper and oregano (fresh or dried) if available, for seasoning
Heat the olive oil in a good sized saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the fennel and onion and cook, stirring, until they are tender and the edges are browning, approximately 10 minutes.
Add the beans, chicken stock, oregano or other seasoning you’re planning to use, plus salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about half, which should take less than 5 minutes.
Stir in the vinegar and butter and remove from the heat. Serve warm!
Martha suggests making this with pork chops, as shown above, and suggests cooking those first then making this in the same pan with the browned bits left over for extra flavoring. That would obviously make it non-vegetarian, so that’s your choice! I didn’t do it that way — we cooked each dish separately, though they were served together — but I’m sure it would taste great.