Posted on 12 March 2011 by

Tomato-Fennel Cream

By David Harbilas

Fennel is one of the most underappreciated and versatile vegetables available.

Its spectrum of flavors runs from bitter to sweet to mild to almost offensive, depending on how it’s used.

I prefer it on the sweet side, which usually means cooking slowly.

This sauce, like many featured here, is very simple in that it requires little more than the three ingredients in its title.

The trick, however, is to combine them in a way that highlights their inherent qualities. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, roasting is often the best way to concentrate sweetness while also creating a tender mixture that lends itself to a silky puree. This sauce is best used with fish, pork, and chicken.

Yields about 4 cups of sauce

  • 4 fennel bulbs
  • 6 globe tomatoes
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Preheat an oven to 275 degrees. In two separate roasting pans place the vegetables with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover the pans with foil and roast for 3-4 hours, or until very tender. Cool thoroughly.

Puree the vegetables in batches and push through a fine strainer. Season the puree with salt and pepper and lemon juice and combine with the heavy cream. Place the mixture over medium-high heat and reduce until thick, about 20 minutes.

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