I have a confession to make: I stole this idea. Yes, stolen, point-blank, from an especially lovely German family who had me over to dinner shortly before I left Germany. I'm back in Australia, soaking up lovely weather and sunshine, and as soon as I get myself settled, I'll be making this dish again. I'm still barely cooking; I've been home for just over a week, after a lovely visit to Singapore, and I've been eating at friends' houses on a regular occasion. So, needless to say, this blog has been sorely neglected. But that's okay; I'll get back into cooking very shortly.
This dish is incredibly easy; it does take some oven time, but it's simple and delicious. I like it on its own, though I'd recommend some crusty bread to soak up the extra juices. It would probably also be delicious over pasta, rice, risoni, polenta, semolina or couscous. Name your carb of choice, really. I'll be trying it as a pizza topping when I next decide to make pizza dough from scratch; I think the slices will need to be thinner, but the flavours are unbeatable.
A note on the olives: I recommend using marinated. I mean, the extra flavour isn't going to hurt! I liked the extra large green olives from a stall at the Dom Markt; marinated in masses of garlic, some parsley and stuffed with whole blanched almonds, those olives were to die for. Of course, you could always use plain green olives, or black olives, but go by the basic rule: if you don't want to snack on 49825749857 olives while you're making this recipe, then don't bother using them.
Baked Fennel with Green Olives
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 x 15cm spring rosemary
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 cup water
2 fennel bulbs
about 10 green olives, halved lengthwise, possibly marinated*
Preheat your oven to about 200 degrees; this is a guess, because my German oven was so unreliable. Take a guess.
Slice fennel into halves and then thin slices, keeping them joined at the base so that the segments hold together. I slice mine so that they're about 1cm at the thickest point. Arrange in a large baking dish; you want them to fit closely but to avoid too much overlap.
In a cold pan, add a splash of olive oil and the garlic slices. Sautee until the garlic is fragrant, then add the rosemary leaves, which have been separated from the stem. When the garlic is starting to colour just a little, add the tomatoes and water. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and a little dried savoury or thyme, if you like).
Carefully spoon the tomato mixture over the fennel, so that it's evenly covered. (If you like things saucy, I recommend doubling the volume of sauce.) Scatter with olives.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until fennel is very tender. Scatter with fresh parsley, if desired. Eat eat eat!
*I use extra large green olives, marinated in masses of garlic, and some herbs. I recommend olives stuffed with almonds, too.