Braised fennel and butter beans with gremolata oil and cheese crisps
- May 2016
- 60g unsalted butter
- Olive oil to drizzle
- 2 fennel bulbs, each cut into 6 wedges
- 5 banana shallots, halved lengthways
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 200ml dry white wine
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 2 x 400g tins butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 3-4 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 4 fresh oregano sprigs
- Large handful black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
For the gremolata oil
- 1 large bunch fresh flatleaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- Grated zest and juice 1 lemon
- 75ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra (optional)
For the cheese crisps
- 50g vegetarian grating cheese (we used gran moravia, from Waitrose)
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan with a drizzle of olive oil and, when sizzling, add the fennel wedges. Cook over a medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes until golden on one side, then flip and repeat on the other cut side. Remove from the pan, leaving the butter behind, turn down the heat and add the shallots. Cook for another 6-7 minutes until softened, then stir in the garlic and cook for 3 minutes more.
- Turn up the heat, return the fennel and any resting juice to the pan, add the wine, then bubble until almost completely reduced. Add the chopped tomatoes with a tinful of water, stir, season, then bring to a simmer. Add the butter beans with the rosemary, oregano and olives and simmer gently, stirring every now and then, for 30-40 minutes until reduced and thick. The fennel should be soft enough to cut with a dinner knife.
- Meanwhile, make the gremolata oil. Whizz the parsley, garlic, lemon juice and zest together with the 75ml olive oil in a mini chopper, food processor or pestle and mortar, until it forms a rough paste. Remove to a bowl and stir in enough extra olive oil to loosen to spooning consistency. Season to taste and set aside.
- For the cheese crisps, heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6 and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Finely grate the cheese all over the baking paper in a thin, even layer, then cook for 8-10 minutes until pale golden and crisp. Remove, leave to cool and harden, then break into shards.
- Once the fennel is soft, taste and season. Divide the veg among bowls, then dollop over some gremolata oil and scatter with a few cheese crisps. Serve with the rest of the crisps and gremolata oil, and crusty bread.
Make the fennel stew up to 24 hours in advance and keep chilled in the fridge. Reheat thoroughly to serve.
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