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Braised Fennel Gratin

I have an unending passion for fennel. Even here, where it is covered in cream, I feel sure that its digestive properties shine through. Brasing is a two-way process – the taste of the vegetables into the sauce, the sauce flavour into the vegetables – and the result so much greater than the sum of its parts. A peppery leafed green salad and some warm bread are all you really need for a simple and elegant meal.

Serves 2

2 fennel bulbs, cut in half lengthways
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
5 tbsp light olive oil, plus a little extra
300ml hot vegetable stock, made with 1⁄2 tsp bouillon powder (Nadine uses Marigold Organic Bouillon powder)
60g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced (optional)
dash of tamari for the mushrooms
100g parmesan, grated

1. Put the fennel and garlic in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and cover with the olive oil and stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes or until the fennel is tender and the liquid reduced by three-quarters.
2. Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms, if using, in a little light olive oil. Add a dash of tamari when they are nearly done.
3. Now, turn your grill on high and while it is heating up, stir the cream into the fennel, bring back to the boil and immediately remove from the heat. Stir in the mushrooms, if using. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and place under the hot grill until just bubbling. Serve at once.

Recipe from Cranks Fast Food by Nadine Abensur

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