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Tuesday, Apr 28th


Restaurants Malta - Paradise Found

Paradise Found

Roasted Fennel

Some vegetables just adore taking centre stage and fennel is one of them. Sage coaxes hers into submission.

Roasted Fennel


Main Ingredient fennel
Preparation Time 5-15 minutes
Cooking Time Less than 30 mins
Course Side
Recipe Serves 4
Recipe Type Vegetarian
Fennel bulbs and I did not get off to a good start when it came to finding ways to prepare and cook them. For what seems like ages, I’d look at them on the veggie display and I’d wonder what on earth one does with them. Then, one day, I decided to take a few home.

The first thing I thought of was just bunging them into the first traditional dish of Patata l-Forn which issued forth with one of the Sunday roasts – with a sprinkling of the ubiquitous fennel seeds of course. It tasted nice, but was it interesting enough for, say, a dinner party?

Next time round I found a Tunisian recipe wich was very spicy: it contained tomatoes, raisins, cumin and a long list of other ingredients. The result was not bad, but in the end no one knew exactly what one was eating, and the taste of the fennel bulbs simply did not shine through.

Third attempt ... and it had better be a good one this time. I resolved to keep it simple but fragrant and use everyday ingredients which we find all around us. Ingredients which one would find in every kitchen: olive oil, lemons from the garden, some of the dried red pepper flakes which I had spent hours drying on a very low setting in my oven ... and of course the fennel bulbs and seeds.

The recipe is very simple to make but the fennel is delicious served with pork or fish. An yes, it can be eaten hot, warm or cold.
4 fennel bulbs – choose the whitest, best-looking bulbs without too many grubby-looking outer layers A tablespoon of dried red pepper flakes – as I said, I make these myself by drying red peppers from my garden at about 70 °C in my oven. It takes ages, but the result is lovely. When the peppers are totally dry, hard and brittle to touch - and completely cold - I simply whizz them in a food processor until they are broken down into small flakes, and store in jars. I don’t bother removing the seeds, as we like things hot at home, but if you must do this, remove them before you give the peppers a whizz! Alternatively, for this recipe, use one fresh red pepper, chopped. Grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds 6 grindings fresh pepper, or more if you prefer – and let it be fresh pepper for this recipe Some sea salt 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil - use the best olive oil possible, as this will make all the difference when it comes to the actual taste of the final product. Don’t go for cheap, commercial versions.

Preheat your oven to 220 - 230 °C.

First get the fennel bulbs ready by removing the rough, tough outer layers and trimming the bottom of the bulb. Divide each bulb in four length-wise, and if the fennel bulbs are large, divide these quarters again into two, lenght-wise, so that you end up with wedges of fennel bulb.

Place the wedges, in a single layer, on an oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle the dried red pepper pieces (or flakes), the lemon zest and juice, the fennel seeds, pepper and salt on top of them. Finally, drizzle the olive oil on top of the bulbs.

Cover the baking dish with foil and pop it into the oven for about 30 - 40 minutes, or until the fennel bulbs are nice and tender. Test with a fork, and pop them into the oven again if not tender enough.

Now remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the bulbs acquire a nicely browned colour.

Serve hot or cold as a side dish and enjoy.


Sage writes for Il-Pjazza



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