Friday, August 31, 2012

Caramelized Fennel and Onion

A fennel bulb is the thickened, succulent stem of the plant that grows just above the ground. It can be used either raw or cooked in recipes. When used raw it is crunchy with a distinct licorice flavor, and cooked the flavor mellows out significantly. Below is an easy recipe for caramelized fennel and onions, one of my favorite ways to eat fennel. Enjoy!

2 large onions (3 cups sliced)
2 large, trimmed fennel bulbs (3 cups sliced)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Salt to taste
1/4 cup slivered kalamata olives
White wine to taste, 2 tbsp to 1/3 cup
Fresh ground black pepper

1 loaf of crusty, Italian bread (ciabatta)

Peel the onions, quarter them lengthwise and slice them thickly. Trim onions and fennel bulbs and slice them to a similar size. In a heavy bottomed, nonstick pan, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onion and fennel, salt it lightly, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are a beautiful golden brown. This may take 45 minutes or more. Stir in the slivers of Kalamata olives and white wine. Continue stirring until the wine is completely absorbed. Taste and correct the seasoning with salt or pepper. Meanwhile, slice the bread about 1/2 inch thick. If it's a large loaf, cut the slices down to about 3 by 2 inches. Toast the slices in a 400 degree over until they are crisp and golden brown on both sides. Brush them lightly with olive oil. Spoon the fennel mixture over the toasts, or use toasts for dipping.