Sherry-braised fennel with pretzel crumbs and goat’s cheese
- April 2016
- Serves 4 as a starter or 6-8 as a side dish
- Hands-on time 25 min, oven time 1½ hours
Tender fennel, which has been braised in sherry, is topped with crisp pretzel crumbs and goat’s cheese in this simple dinner party starter recipe.
- Vegetarian recipes
- 14.5g (4.2g saturated)
- 16.6g (7.1g sugars)
- 3 large fennel bulbs, quartered lengthways
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 250ml dry oloroso or palo cortado sherry
- 4 tbsp clear honey
For the topping
- 1 tbsp olive oil (extra-virgin or blended)
- 2 large, soft pretzels (available from supermarket bakeries), torn into bite-size pieces
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 120g ash-covered goat’s cheese such as rosary ash, chopped into small chunks
- 15g fresh dill, finely chopped
- Juice ½ lemon or to taste
- Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Arrange the fennel quarters top-to-tail in a roasting pan or dish so they fit snugly together. Drizzle over the 5 tbsp olive oil, sherry and honey, then season. Cover the tin tightly with foil and cook for 1 hour.
- After this time, remove the foil, turn the fennel over and increase the temperature to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Roast, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. The fennel should be tender and beginning to caramelise, and there should be a layer of juice in the bottom of the dish. Once the fennel is done, if you’re not quite ready to serve, turn the oven right down and leave the dish inside to keep warm.
- About 5 minutes before the fennel is ready, make the topping. Heat the 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Once shimmering hot, add the pretzels and poppy seeds with some sea salt (unless the pretzels are covered in salt). Cook, tossing often, for 6-8 minutes until the pretzels are pale golden and crisp. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the goat’s cheese and dill, then scatter over the fennel. Squeeze over lemon juice to taste and serve immediately.
Braise the fennel for the first hour (step 1) up to 24 hours in advance. Cool, then separate from the liquid and chill both separately, covered. Continue with the recipe from step 2.
This recipe makes a lovely starter on its own, but it would also be good as part of a buffet or served as a side dish for grilled meat or chicken.
Choose a dry sherry such as fino, or a modern Spanish white such as verdejo.
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