A few weeks ago, I became overwhelmed with the need to add fresh fennel to our menu. I suggested this as an Ingredient for our Ingredient-Challenge Monday group, and while it took a couple of weeks to get everyone on board, I am so excited to have fennel as our featured ingredient today!
So excited, in fact, that I am actually sharing two, count ‘em, TWO recipes with you today!
What is so great about fennel, you ask?
High in vitamin c, fiber, potassium, manganese and folate, fennel is listed as one of the World’s Healthiest Foods. There are many health benefits that come with eating fennel including, antioxidant and health promoting effects, immune support from vitamin c, fiber, folate and potassium for cardiovascular and colon health.
Couple these benefits with a flavor that is uniquely its own, fennel is an excellent addition to most any meal!
First, my Vegan Ratatouille With a Twist.
Most people recognize ratatouille as illustrated in the movie of the same name:
My Vegan Ratatouille With a Twist lays somewhere between the two traditional dishes, given that it is layered nicely, baked in a dish versus being sautéed in a pan.
The ‘with a twist’ comes from the addition of the fennel. By doing so, there is a slight hint of anise or licorice flavor that brings this dish to a new level, one that you will be happy to visit time and time again.
This recipe lacks the traditional eggplant present in both the traditional versions of ratatouille and confit byaldi; which is more of a lack of availability (neither stores I visited this weekend had any, and I am completely out of the eggplant from last year’s garden), than it is a wish to eliminate.
In its place, I added a third type of squash that is readily available throughout the Southern States, calabacitas. Lighter in color than zucchini, sweeter but still firm, this ingredient is a delicious compliment to the other flavors found here and would be something I’d wish to include in future dishes or ratatouille, eggplant or not.
Should you be lucky enough to find eggplant prior to making this dish, I would recommend sautéing it along with the garlic, onion and spices. With or without, this is an amazing dish that even my anti-veggie child quickly devoured.
If you will not be using the stalks and leaves of the fennel for the Orange Roughy recipe that follows, I might suggest chopping these and adding them to the garlic and spices you will be sautéing.
Any way you look at it, this version of ratatouille is simple, beautiful, nutritious and delicious…truly a meal in and of itself.
Vegan Ratatouille With a Twist
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Minced Garlic
½ Tbs Herbs de Province
½ Tbs Parsley Flakes
1 Medium Onion
1 Fennel Bulb, Stems Removed and Reserved
1 Medium Yellow Squash
1 Medium Green Zucchini
1 Medium/Large Calabacita
2 Roma Tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350f. In medium sauté pan, heat olive oil and sauté minced garlic, herbs de province, parsley flakes and medium onion, sliced thin. Remove from heat once onion is soft, pliable and clear but not yet caramelized. Allow to cool while you clean, prepare and thinly slice the fennel bulb, yellow squash, zucchini, calabacita and tomatoes.
In large bowl, carefully combine the sautéed ingredients with the thinly sliced vegetables, using your hands to coat evenly.
Lightly spray casserole dish and thinly layer fennel, yellow squash, zucchini, clabacita and roma tomato slices, alternating as listed. Once the bottom of the casserole dish is completely covered with your first thin layer of vegetable slices, lightly sprinkle the parmesan cheeze, reserving enough for remaining layers.
Continue with this process, lightly sprinkling each layer with parmesan cheeze until all of the vegetables have been used.
Cook, uncovered for 30-45 minutes, until top layer is tender. You may note the top becomes lightly browned and a slight crisp remains, which is a great compliment to the tender vegetables that await you below. Allow to cool slightly and enjoy!
My next recipe is the perfect complement to this ratatouille. Using similar flavors throughout the meal ensures continuity, even if each item on the final plate is completely unique. For this dish, we use the reserved stems and leaves of the fennel bulb in the ratatouille. The addition of coconut milk ensures a tender, creamy filet without overwhelming the dish. My favorite way to prepare fish, this recipe goes well with any white fish, although Orange Roughy is by far my ideal.
Braised Orange Roughy with Fennel
4 Orange Roughy Filets (approximately ½ lb each)
Stems and leaves from 1 fennel bulb, large stems removed and the remaining washed and chopped.
1 Tbs Minced Garlic
1 Tbs Parsley
½ Tbs Herbs de Province
1 can Whole Coconut Milk
Heat oven to 350f. Lightly spray sauté pan and warm on med-high while preparing the fish. Mix together garlic, parsley, and herbs de province. Rub mixture into each filet, placing seasoned filet into sauté pan. Lightly brown each side of the filet, but do not cook the fish in this pan. Remove filet and place in casserole dish that has been lightly sprayed. Pour coconut milk evenly over all four filets, top with chopped fennel and sprinkle with parmesan cheeze.
Bake, covered at 350f for 30 min or until fish is thoroughly cooked.
Serve with Vegan Ratatouille With a Twist for a scrumptious meal!
Now that you have enjoyed my contribution to this week’s Ingredient-Challenge Monday, please be sure to visit the other ICM contenders:
And our newest contender, vegan genius: