This side dish is elegant and luscious. Perfect to pair with chicken, pork or a mild fish like cod or sea bass. But, if you prefer to walk the vegetarian path, enjoy it over farro, barley, or as we did, a colorful quinoa.  Add a hearty loaf of bread, and you will be all set…

Fennel with Tomato Saffron1

The recipe is published in  Vegetable Literacy  the latest cookbook from Deborah Madison. Lisa  from “Lisa is Cooking” wrote a great review about the book a few months ago, and shared a recipe from it, check it out by jumping here. Deborah Madison has the amazing ability of bringing the best out of the most humble vegetable. I do not own a copy of this particular book (bravely resisted so far), but her classic Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is part of our collection.

The recipe is available online, just click here.


Definitely the most important advice is to take the time to brown the fennel well, that will ensure a deeper flavor in the end.  I don’t recommend this dish for those who have issues with fennel, because its flavor is very prominent.  I crumbled goat cheese over the braise, allowing it to melt down in the liquid, and right before serving added the greens from the fennel, minced. As the recipe states, if your fennel bulbs came without the tops, use parsley instead. My main modification from the published recipe was to squeeze a little lemon juice all over, and reduce slightly the amount of tomato paste. I thought three tablespoons seemed excessive, so I added only two.  Capers and saffron are fantastic together, by the way.

Because we have nothing against a little meat with our veggie goodness,  a boneless, grilled chicken breast was part of our dinner too.  As far as looks are concerned, I suppose a fully white quinoa would have been better, but the bag of tricolor quinoa acquired months ago at a Trader Joe’s was winking at me from the pantry.  I spooned a little of the braising sauce over the chicken, so that it all got tied together in a beautiful caper & saffron glory!

platedDinner is served!

ONE YEAR AGO: Revenge of the Two Derelicts

TWO YEARS AGO: Grilling Ribbons

THREE YEARS AGO: Peppery Cashew Crunch

FOUR YEARS AGO: Baked Shrimp and Feta Pasta


  1. I’ve never eaten or cooked fennel, and, wouldn’t you know it, now that I’ve decided to give it a try, the last 2 times I went grocery shopping they didn’t have any. I’ll take the warning as to the prominence of the fennel flavour in mind and consider another recipe for my maiden cooking attempt and leave this recipe until I know that I like the stuff. 🙂


    • Definitely. If you are not sure how you'[ll feel about fennel, this is not the recipe to start. Fennel tastes totally different cooked or raw (in salads) – maybe you could try a very thinly sliced, shaved fennel?


  2. Looks fabulous! I love fennel and grew up on it. Its an acquired taste, as many of my friends don’t like it. They just don’t know what they are missing! I’d be very happy with this dish and a loaf of rustic bread!


  3. Altho’ fennel and I did not have the easiest of times getting together, I now reach for it first whenever on offer! A beautifully full and bounteous recipe methinks I would just have with bread . . . and enjoy!!!


  4. What a great idea — I don’t think I’ve ever had fennel in a tomato based sauce before…I bet it’s delicious. Love how you’re always working in the saffron recipes Sally 😉 — very pretty tricolour quinoa and perfect texture for absorbing the juices…yum!


    • I actually thought that you would love this dish, Kelly… the tomato taste is very intense, I actually don’t think the 3 tablespoons would be better than the way I made it. But, try it and see how you like it…


  5. I’ve said before, Sally, that my family never cooked fennel and only served it raw, like crudités. I’ve roasted it with fish and, for my family, that’s groundbreaking. Preparing it in a braise sounds fantastic! I have to try this. I still haven’t tried quinoa yet, though. I’ll save that bridge for another time. 🙂


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