Did you know that there are actually two types of fennel? This vegetable has been assigned a gender. The curvy bulbous is the female and the slender one is the male.
Fennel is still not used much in British cooking, but it is slowly making an appearance mostly in raw salad dishes because of its crunch and its flavour reminisce of aniseed, star anise or even licorice flavour. Unlike the British, the French and Italians are very fond of this feathery frond stemmed vegetable. So I was pleased to pick some up again to make a Light Fennel, Red Pepper and Butternut Squash Stew infused with caraway seeds.
I describe this Fennel, Red Pepper and Butternut Squash Stew as light as the sauce is not thick, its almost like a clear broth, like a consomme. It is also mildly spiced to warm your cheeks.
This is my contribution to Food 'N' Flix this month hosted by hosted by Heather at All Roads Lead To The Kitchen. The movie chosen this month was French Kiss. I watched it on youtube. I saw the trailer and obviously the cheese plate on the train was influencing my decision to make a cheese dish, but then about 8 minutes into the movie I spotted some colourful vibrant fresh vegetables in the kitchen on the table including tomatoes, carrots and fennel. This is just before the character Kate receives a phone call from her fiancee Charlie breaking up with her as he has fallen in love with someone he has met in Paris.
I do like fennel, but we don't eat it much as we want as it is a bit of a luxury vegetable in our home, so I incorporated it in this light Red Pepper and Butternut Squash Stew. I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but it is quite nippy in Wales and stews are very welcome, even light ones. I am also sharing this broth stew with Soups, Salads and Sammies hosted by Kahakai Kitchen; as it can be eaten with a spoon like a chunky soup too.
Light Fennel, Red Pepper and Butternut Stew
Serves 4 with couscous or crusty bread
2 tablespoons oil1 red onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
350g butternut squash, peeled and diced small
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 red chillies, sliced including seeds
100g carrots, peeled and sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
1 fennel, core removed and roughly chopped
300ml vegetable stock
Salt to taste.
In a wide pan, heat the oil, then stir in the onion and saute until beginning to soften, then stir in the garlic..
Cook for a couple of minutes before stirring in the butternut squash, chilli and the caraway seeds.
Saute or a few minutes, before stirring in the rest of the vegetables for 10 minutes, then stir in the stock, bring to a boil.
Then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft but still holding their shape.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Simmer for a few minutes until the stock has reduced.
Adapted from Leiths Vegetarian Bible