Fennel, with its delicate anise flavor, is a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. One delicious way to prepare fennel is by braising it with orange. This easy recipe combines the distinct flavors of fennel and orange to create a unique and flavorful side dish.
To make this braised fennel recipe, start by slicing the fennel bulbs and sautéing them in a pan with olive oil. The fennel is then braised in a mixture of orange juice, zest, and vegetable broth, which infuses it with a bright citrus flavor. As the fennel simmers in the liquid, it becomes tender and slightly caramelized.
This dish is perfect for serving as a side with roasted meats or grilled fish. The sweet and tangy flavors of the orange complement the earthy taste of the fennel, creating a well-balanced and delicious dish. Serve the braised fennel warm, garnished with fresh herbs like parsley or dill, for an elegant and flavorful addition to your menu.
How to Make Braised Fennel with Orange: Step-by-Step Instructions
- Start by prepping the fennel bulbs. Trim off the stems and fronds, leaving only the bulb. Cut the bulbs in half lengthwise, and then slice each half into thin wedges.
- Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add some olive oil and allow it to heat up. Once hot, add the fennel wedges to the pan, spreading them out in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the fennel wedges for about 5 minutes, until they start to brown slightly. Flip them over and cook for another 5 minutes on the other side.
- While the fennel is cooking, zest an orange to get about 1 tablespoon of orange zest. Set the zest aside for later.
- Once the fennel wedges are nicely browned on both sides, remove them from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add some orange juice, chicken or vegetable broth, and the reserved orange zest.
- Stir the mixture well, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the fennel wedges to the pan, making sure they are coated in the liquid. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the fennel simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until it becomes tender.
- While the fennel is simmering, segment the orange by cutting off the top and bottom, and then cutting off the peel and pith. Cut between the membranes to release the segments. Set the orange segments aside.
- Once the fennel is tender, remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high. Let the liquid cook down for a few minutes, until it thickens slightly.
- To serve, arrange the braised fennel wedges on a plate and garnish with the orange segments. Drizzle the reduced cooking liquid over the top. Optional: sprinkle with some chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or dill, for added flavor and freshness.
This easy braised fennel recipe with orange is a perfect side dish to accompany a variety of main courses. The combination of flavors creates a unique and versatile dish that is sure to impress. Enjoy!
Health Benefits of Fennel: Why You Should Include it in Your Diet
- Digestive Health: Fennel is known for its digestive properties and can help alleviate various digestive issues. It contains compounds that help relax the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, promoting smooth digestion and reducing bloating and gas. Additionally, the fiber content in fennel can help regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation.
- Rich in Antioxidants: Fennel is packed with antioxidants that help protect your body against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. These antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic compounds, help neutralize harmful free radicals and prevent cell damage. Including fennel in your diet can help boost your immune system and support overall health.
- Heart Health: Fennel contains essential nutrients that have been linked to heart health. It is a good source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and maintain a healthy heart rhythm. The fiber content in fennel can also help reduce cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
In addition to these benefits, fennel is also low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and manganese, which are all essential for maintaining optimal health. Fennel can be enjoyed raw in salads, roasted with other vegetables, or braised as a side dish. With its delicious taste and numerous health benefits, fennel is definitely worth including in your diet.
Pairing Suggestions: What Goes Well with Braised Fennel and Orange
1. Grilled Fish
Braised fennel and orange are a perfect accompaniment to a fresh and light grilled fish. The delicate flavors of the fish are complemented by the tangy and slightly sweet notes of the fennel and orange. Some great options include grilled sea bass, halibut, or trout. The fennel and orange can be used as a marinade for the fish or served as a side dish.
2. Roasted Chicken
The sweetness of the orange and the subtle licorice-like flavor of the fennel pair wonderfully with roasted chicken. The citrusy notes of the orange help to brighten the rich flavors of the chicken, while the fennel adds a unique depth. You can roast the chicken with slices of orange and fennel or serve the braised fennel and orange on the side as a flavorful vegetable dish.
3. Herbed Couscous
Braised fennel and orange can also be served over herbed couscous for a satisfying vegetarian meal. The light and fluffy texture of the couscous contrasts nicely with the tender and flavorful fennel and orange. You can add fresh herbs like mint, parsley, or dill to the couscous to further enhance the flavors.
4. Arugula Salad
To balance out the richness of the braised fennel and orange, serve it alongside a peppery arugula salad. The slight bitterness of the arugula complements the sweetness of the orange and adds a refreshing crunch to the dish. You can dress the salad with a simple vinaigrette made with orange juice, olive oil, and a touch of honey.
5. Crusty Bread
No meal is complete without some good bread to soak up all the delicious flavors. Serve your braised fennel and orange with a crusty bread like a baguette or ciabatta. The bread can be used to make open-faced sandwiches with the fennel and orange as a topping, or simply torn and dipped into the flavorful braising liquid.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on incorporating braised fennel and orange into your meals. Feel free to get creative and experiment with other ingredients and flavors to find your favorite pairings!