Friday, January 23, 2015

Another New Favorite Side Dish

It's strange that I'm cooking more than ever these days, but inventing less.

Prior to my surgery I was often out two or three nights a week.  I'd spend most of my weekend 70 miles away from home then come home too tired to cook.  Kevin and I would eat out at least twice a week and three nights a week we would eat leftovers for dinner, whether they were from a restaurant or leftovers from the meals I prepared the night before.

Now I'm cooking much more.  I have the time so I do it more often.  I'm home almost every night and I don't spend my entire weekend at the barn like I used to (it's too cold to hang out there if I can't ride).

I'm learning the tough lesson that meal planning is harder when you have more meals to plan.  Much of what I make are basics or else my old reliable classic TERP recipes.  My focus these days is to make the classics the best they can be.  I put a lot more time and care into food than I did in the past.

My biggest issue with dinner isn't the main course.  It's coming up with side dishes.  I wish I liked vegetables more (or that I liked more vegetables).  I wish the vegetables I do like were all of the same ones Sir Pickypants likes.  I feel like I make the same vegetables over and over again and they're always steamed and buttered or else roasted.

This past week we had steamed green beans, and chopped salad, and...zzzzzzz

I'm sorry.  Did I just nod off?  I do that when I consider some of my most recent meals.

So this week I decided I had to get off the vegetable hamster wheel again and find a new side dish.  I love fennel and have been using it in salads pretty often.  I thought I would try something new with it.

This roasted tomato and fennel compote was perfect.  I'm sure there are a hundred dishes almost exactly like it, but I'm sharing mine anyway.  I have seen a few recipes like this that use olives, but since we don't like them, I just used the main ingredients with some pearl onions and flavored with roasted garlic, basil, and fennel fronds.

It was perfect on a grilled, grass-fed steak.

Also good on fish - or so the hubs would tell me.

Roasted Fennel Tomato Compote

  • 4 Tbl olive oil, divided
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb cut into 1/2" slices, fronds reserved
  • 6-8 cippollini onions, peeled
  • 6 clove of garlic, whole, unpeeled
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
  • 1 Tbl lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Toss the tomatoes, onions, fennel slices, and garlic in 2 Tbl olive oil.  Spread out on a cookie sheet.  Roast about 30-40 minutes*, or until soft.

Remove the peels from the garlic cloves.  Mash them in a bowl with remaining olive oil.  Whisk in basil, reserved fronds, and salt.

Toss the tomatoes, fennel, and onions with the dressing and serve.

*I confess I wasn't paying much attention when I made this.  I threw it in the oven and winged it and served dinner when it all seemed soft enough.  Start with 30 minutes and see if it's soft enough for you.  If not, keep going.   This is a very forgiving dish.


Sue said...

Hi Rach!
How is it all going? I love grape tomatoes and the fact that we can get them all year round. That's a great idea to use the fronds of the fennel. I always forget to do that. And you're very disciplined to cook it all at 325. I never can wait that long and I always crank up the heat. It sounds yum.

Emily said...

I like fennel but rarely ever make it! This looks great. I am definitely stuck in a food rut. I try to branch out and try to eat more vegetables, but a lot of the time they just don't appeal to me at dinner time. I usually stick with broccoli and salad. Zzzz