This easy quick-braised fennel recipe offers natural sweet flavors with very subtle licorice-like undertones. The heartiness of this vegetable works well with the natural sweetness of fresh peaches and satisfying crunchy almonds. An unexpected combination of ingredients that makes for one delicious and healthy vegetable dish!
I grew up with fennel! And it is one of my favorite vegetables. I enjoy it raw as a snack, to add crunchiness in salads or sometimes softened as in this quick-braised fennel recipe. My Italian Grandmother would serve fresh fennel pieces after every Christmas meal to aid with digestion. A tradition I would still do today if it were not for my husband and daughter who don't share the same love for fennel as I do. Unfortunately, they never will at least not raw, despite my best efforts combining it in the most crunchy and flavorful salads. But, and this one is big for me, this recipe they love. And mainly, I think, because of the naturally sweet flavors of peaches and almonds balancing the fennel's licorice taste and making it one hearty vegetable dish. At least one fennel dish we can agree on!
Now let's look what's in it and how you can swap some of the ingredients based on your diet or what you have in your pantry.
HOW TO COOK FENNEL WITH PEACHES AND ALMONDS
It is an easy vegetable dish that quickly comes together in about 30 minutes. Because the fennel has harder outer layers, I first soften it for 5 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients. Then it is only about letting the flavors come together by breaking down the peaches and adding the seasoning.
RIPE PEACHES: select the ones that are on the riper side with a sweet aroma. You know, that sweet peachy smell that is almost impossible to resist. There also should be a gentle give when squeezed. If the fruits are still firm to the touch, they are not ripe and therefore not sweet enough. Juicy fresh peaches are also going to completely break down at the end of cooking time, releasing their delightful flavors into the vegetable sauce.
ROASTED ALMONDS: you can use raw almonds; however, roasted nuts will give a more in debt flavor to the dish. They also provide a more crunchy texture overall. I do recommend roasted almonds with no added salt or any other flavorings! Keep it simple!
SIMPLE SUGGESTIONS WHEN SWAPPING INGREDIENTS
BUTTER: if you are vegan or trying to avoid dairy products, feel free to use olive oil instead of real butter. I don't recommend very intense flavored oils or coconut oil. I have tested this a couple of times and find that either butter or neutral olive oil is best here. You don't want a fatty base to overpower the vegetable sauce.
VEGETABLE SEASONING: I love the rich vegetable broth seasoning from Seitenbacher (see recommendation in the recipe.) But if you should not have it on hand, feel free to use a good vegetable bouillon. Add it when you are stirring in the water and make sure it completely dissolves.
BROWN RICE SYRUP: I have this often in my pantry, but I realize that not everyone cooks with this syrup. You can replace it with a tad of maple syrup, about one teaspoon. Maple syrup is much sweeter and stronger in flavor, so a little goes a long way in this recipe. Always start with a small amount and taste test before adding more. Brown rice syrup is optional though, especially with very sweet peaches.
This delicious vegetable side dish might convert some other fennel naysayers. What do you think? It pairs well with any meat, fish dish (it tastes excellent with ribs) or as a vegetable side with quinoa or boiled potatoes.
Looking for other sweet and hearty vegetable dishes? Here are some more:
- Simple Roasted Baby Bok Choy with Grated Apple
- Super Comforting and Healthy Brussels Sprouts Side Dish
- Lovely Fennel-Cucumber Bites with Creamy Tuna
- 2 large fennel bulbs
- 4 ripe peaches
- 2 tablespoons real butter
- 1 tablespoon vegetable broth seasoning ( I prefer vegetable broth and seasoning from Seitenbacher)
- 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup (optional)
- ¼ cup roasted almonds, chopped
- ½ cup water
- Cut the root ends from the fennel bulbs and discard. Separate the stalks from the bulbs by cutting about 1 inch above the bulb. Chop the fennel stalks, then quarter the fennel bulbs, and further cut each quarter piece in half.
- Cut open the peaches in the center and around the pit. Open the fruits to expose it. Take the pit out and discard. Slice the peaches further into thin wedges.
- In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add all the fennel pieces. Cook and stir the vegetable for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and vegetable seasoning. Stir in the peaches and the almonds. Cook and stir for one minute, then stir in the syrup. Pour over the water, cover the pan and let the liquid come to a gentle simmer. Then reduce the heat to low and further simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. The fennel should be soft, and the flesh of the peaches should have almost entirely broken down.