Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

This dish from Food & Wine is beautiful and delicious in its simplicity — really only five ingredients if you don’t count butter, oil and salt and pepper. Of course, that makes the ingredients you pick all the more important — mainly super fresh, high quality scallops. Splurge! It will be worth it. This dish also depends on cooking the scallops exactly right. It’s not hard — the key is a hot pan and critical attention to the clock. Get the pan nice and hot before you put the scallops in — you’ll get a good sear that way, while keeping the interior soft so it melts in your mouth.

Look at that nice sear! The bold flavors alongside make the dish — the nice anise from the fennel, acid from the lemon and the sharp, salty capers. Top with fresh parsley. Impressive but super fast and easy. Enjoy!

Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium fennel bulb—trimmed, halved and thinly sliced, fronds reserved for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the scallops and cook until just opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the sliced fennel and capers and cook over high heat, stirring, until the fennel is crisp-tender and lightly golden, 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the fennel around the scallops and garnish with chopped fennel fronds. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

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I loooooove fennel. It’s such a weird vegetable — it’s white in color, has a core that needs to be removed, acts like a root vegetable (you eat the bulb vs. the plant that grows on top) and it tastes like nothing you would ever expect a vegetable to taste like — licorice or anise is the only way you can describe it, but it’s a mild version, not like biting into a piece of licorice. And then there’s the crunch you get. And on top of that, it’s so versatile! I’ve made dishes with fennel including a cheesy, rich potato fennel gratin, awesome salads, soups and roasted vegetables. It’s really awesome — you’ve got to try it.

This dish — Fennel and Garlic Shrimp — is a great use of fennel courtesy of Ina Garten. It’s fresh, garlicky and makes an awesome pan sauce that you sop up with crusty bread. Plus, it cooks up super quickly, so it’s a perfect weeknight meal.

TW’s Tips

  • I skipped the Pernod since I couldn’t find a nip and I knew this would be the only time I’d use it — but if you have it, it will add a little bit more licorice flavor
  • The shrimp took a little longer than stated to cook — just watch for them to get opaque and curled

Enjoy!

Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb, fronds reserved
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound (16- to 20-count) shrimp, peeled with tails on
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • French bread for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and saute for 5 minutes, until tender but not browned. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook at a very low sizzle for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic just begins to color.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, add them to the pan, and toss together with the fennel and olive oil. Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes on one side. Turn the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on the other side, until they’re pink and just cooked through.

Off the heat, sprinkle with the parsley, 1 tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds, the Pernod (if using), the fleur de sel, and black pepper and serve it with bread to soak up all the pan juices.

Sole Meuniere and Roasted Asparagus, Fingerling Potatoes, Fennel and Green Beans

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Let me start by saying I’m pretty excited about this post. This meal was absolutely delicious. And fairly easy, too! I have been craving fish lately, and this simple, classic French preparation — sole meuniere — sounded perfect. I’ve also been wanting to try some classic French dishes, so this was perfect. Meuniere refers to both the method of dredging the fish in seasoned flour before cooking, and to the sauce — a mixture of brown butter, lemon and parsley. I was a fan of both.

This is an Ina Garten recipe, and I love her simple, fresh dishes. The fish — I made the extra effort to get sole, which involved going to Whole Foods and spending more than I usually do on fish — was absolutely delicious, and worth the money. It was mild and so tender it melted in my mouth. To cook the sauce, you first brown the butter in the skillet, then add the fish and cook for just 2 minutes a side, and add lemon juice and zest. It was so full of lemony acid goodness, and a real hit of flavor. Loved it!

I accompanied the fish with roasted vegetables, also an Ina Garten — asparagus, green beans, fennel and fingerling potatoes. It was the perfect side dish. The veggies get caramelized and delicious when you roast them, and they’re full of great flavor that you just don’t get when you saute. And the Parmesan cheese at the end gets nice and crunchy on top — yum!

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TW’s Tips

  • If you must reheat the fish for leftovers, please, pretty please, do not defile it with the microwave. Heat a skillet over low heat and slowly heat it through. You’ll be glad you did. It’s oh-so-better than rubbery, overcooked fish.
  • Using unsalted butter REALLY makes a big difference here. I am the proof — I don’t normally buy unsalted, but when I used salted butter to make the first two pieces of fish last night, it was a little bit too salty. Tonight I made the remaining two pieces and stopped at the store to get unsalted butter. Big difference. Much better. (And I’m a salt fiend, so listen to me!)
  • For the veggies, I couldn’t find haricots verts, so I used regular green beans and it was just fine.

Sole Meuniere

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 fresh sole fillets, 3 to 4 ounces each
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Have 2 heat-proof dinner plates ready.

Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large shallow plate. Pat the sole fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle one side with salt.

Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Dredge 2 sole fillets in the seasoned flour on both sides and place them in the hot butter. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes. Turn carefully with a metal spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. While the second side cooks, add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to the pan. Carefully put the fish filets on the ovenproof plates and pour the sauce over them. Keep the cooked fillets warm in the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining 2 fillets. When they’re done, add the cooked fillets to the plates in the oven. Sprinkle with the parsley, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.

Roasted Vegetables: Fennel, Fingerling Potatoes, Asparagus and Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 2 small fennel bulbs, tops removed
  • 1 lb small potatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 lb thin string beans (French/haricots verts)
  • 1 bunch thin asparagus, ends removed, cut diagonally into 3-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the fennel bulbs into 6 wedges each, cutting through the core to keep the wedges intact. Place on a sheet pan. Cut the potatoes in half length-wise and place them on the pan with the fennel. Drizzle the olive oil on the vegetables, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss with your hands.

Roast the vegetables for 25 – 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, tossing once while cooking. Toss the string beans and asparagus with the roasted vegetables and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and roast for another minute or two until the cheese melts.

Roasted-Potato Fennel Soup

I’ve been in a soup mood lately, and I had some leftover potatoes from my parents’ visit that I had no idea what to do with (I don’t each much potato), and so…potato soup it was. It was also a cold, dreary day, which made this recipe from Barefoot Contessa sound very homey and warm and delicious.

And it was! The soup came out creamy and thick, with a ton of great potato flavor. You keep the skins on the potatoes (makes it super easy), and get such a nice earthy taste from it. And the roasting does good things for the flavor, opposed to the old boiling route. Note: this is NOT your typical cheesy potato soup that doesn’t even taste like potato. And I think that’s a good thing…even though I’ve never seen a cheese I didn’t like. It really tastes like potato soup — and while it’s filling and creamy, you don’t feel like you ate a block of cheese afterward. Which is always nice.

I love fennel, and in this recipe, it gives the soup a nice flavor undertone — not licorice-y at all, just a good contrast. I’d serve this by the cup (opposed to by the bowl) since it is pretty rich. It’d be perfect with a nice salad or alongside half a sandwich for lunch.

TW’s Tips

  • I halved this recipe, and it was still a LOT of soup. I froze two quart-size bags of it because there was no way I was eating potato soup for two weeks.
  • If you’ve never cut up fennel before, make sure you quarter the bulb and cut out the tough core in the middle.
  • To make this vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of chicken.
  • Instead of pureeing in a food processor, I used my immersion blender and pureed it right in the pot. Brilliant!
  • I topped the bowls with some chopped fennel fronds.
Enjoy!

Ingredients (I halved the recipe)

  • 4 lbs red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 4 cups yellow onions, about 2
  • 4 cups fennel bulbs, about 2
  • 3 quarts chicken stock or 3 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through.

Saute the chopped onions and chopped fennel with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stockpot on medium heat until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the roasted potatoes (including scrapings from the pan) and the stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until all the vegetables are very soft. Add the heavy cream and allow the soup to cool slightly.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or food mill, leaving some chunks. Taste for salt and pepper. Reheat and serve hot.