Caramelized fennel with feta and quinoa

This is a simple little dish that has been a staple in my kitchen for years. A beautiful combination of sweet- and saltiness plus a third dimension of fennel seeds’ anise flavour. And it already has turned self-declared fennel haters into converts.

Caramelized fennel

2-3 fennel bulbs, preferably with their greens

1 tbsp fennel seeds

2 tbsp maple syrup or rice malt syrup

1 generous tsp coconut oil

100g feta

200g quinoa

1-2 tbsp almond butter (optional)

sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste

Thoroughly wash the quinoa, otherwise it will taste bitter, and cook with about the double quantity of water and a pinch of sea salt for about 15 minutes. You know that it is ready when it has turned slightly translucent. Drain in a fine sieve.

Trim the fennel, but make sure you keep the leafy fonds to garnish. Cut lengthwise and remove the stem while trying to leave the bulb as intact as possible. Blanch the fennel in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes. Don’t pour out the cooking water but take the fennel out with a slotted spoon.

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan and add the fennel halves (make sure, they are drained quite well – pouring water onto hot oil isn’t a good idea). Add the fennel seeds and the maple syrup and let caramelize until the fennel turns golden-brown. When nicely browned, add some of the cooking water to get a bit of a sauce. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Stir the almond butter in the quinoa, place the fennel halves on top and garnish with crumbled feta and the fennel greens.