Braised Fennel and Figs with Sweet Walnut Vinaigrette
A member of the celery and parsley family, fennel hails from the Mediterranean region. Its distinct aromatic flavor, reminiscent of licorice or anise, becomes more delicate when cooked. Tossing with a vinaigrette after braising and adding caramelized figs introduces another level of rich flavor.
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- 2 fennel bulbs, cut into quarters
- 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
- kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 8 large figs, cut in halves
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1½ tablespoons roughly chopped walnuts, for garnish
- ½ cup walnut oil
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fennel fronds, chopped
- Cut off and discard stalks from fennel bulbs, reserving fronds. Chop 1 tablespoon fronds and discard remainder. Cut bulbs lengthwise into ó-inch-thick slices.
- Melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat; then brown fennel slices well, turning over once, 3–4 minutes.
- Return heat to low. Season fennel with salt and pepper, adding in garlic. Stir to combine. Let fennel sauté 1 minute longer, until garlic is fragrant.
- Add chicken stock and orange juice. Make sure fennel is covered; if not, add up to ¼ cup of water.
- Cook covered, about 12 minutes, until fennel is tender. Remove from heat and drain. Let fennel cool.
- Meanwhile, using same skillet, add 1 tablespoon butter. Once melted, add figs cut side down over medium-high heat. Sauté figs until they caramelize or turn brown, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients.
- Add fennel to bowl, and gently toss. Place fennel on a long serving tray or large shallow bowl. Add figs over top and garnish with chopped walnuts.
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