You’re going to love this Potato, Fennel and Tomato Stew I promise. It explodes with flavor, it’s comfort food at its best, it’s super easy to make and it’s a one pot meal so there’s barely any washing up – ta dah!! I’m currently cooking my way through River Cottage Much More Veg and this is the very first recipe in the book. I love this book, the recipes are interesting – lots of great flavor combinations I would never have thought of, it’s geared to encouraging everyone to enjoy more vegetables and it’s not preachy – it’s just fun.
You would think this is a winter dish and I’m certainly looking forward to it on those endlessly frigid New England nights but I managed to polish this off in the heat of the summer without any problem at all. One of my daughters quite liked it too which is high praise. Another one is supposedly allergic to potatoes!!!! Can you imagine!!! Have you ever heard of anyone who is allergic to potatoes?? Really – if you have let me know.
I’m not being paid to tout this book (I wish I was) but here’s how the author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall described the mission of the book. “I have written this book for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. Whoever we are, and however we choose to eat, it is without doubt a very good idea to make vibrant, nutritious plant foods the basis of our diets.” I couldn’t have put it better myself 🙂
Back to the stew. He uses Harissa Paste which gives everything a lovely rich, almost smokey heat. If you can’t find harissa in your supermarket click here to get it online. Adding the chickpeas is wonderful for extra protein and a little “meat”. Next time I make it I might add a tiny bit of veggie stock so I have a little more sauce to play around with. We are given “swaps” in the recipe so if you don’t like fennel (I can’t imagine you wouldn’t – who doesn’t like roasted fennel) you can swap it out for red, yellow or orange peppers and change the type of bean to cannellini or butter if you don’t have chickpeas on hand.Print
Potato, Fennel and Tomato Stew
3 medium fennel bulbs
1 – 1/2 lbs new potatoes (I used a combination of red and white)
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1–2 sprigs of rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
24 ounces strained tomatoes (or tomato passata as they say in England)
1 rounded tablespoon harissa paste
15 oz can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1/3 cup pitted olives (black or green or a combination)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon to finish (if you don’t have preserved lemons on hand – I didn’t – you can roast a chopped up lemon in the stew or use a fresh one and just squeeze over some juice at the end.)
Preheat the oven to 400 F
Trim the fennel bulbs of their bases, tops and tough outer layer reserving any green feathery fronds attached to the stalks. Quarter the bulbs then cut each quarter into 2 or 3 wedges. Put these into a large roasting dish. If you don’t have preserved lemons and you want to roast some add 2 quartered lemons at this stage).
Add the potatoes, onions, cherry tomatoes and garlic. Throw in the rosemary, trickle over the oil, season with salt and pepper and stir everything together. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes giving the veg a good stir after about 30 minutes.
Pour the strained tomatoes into a bowl with 6 ounces of water and stir in the harissa.
When the veg are tender and starting to brown, take the dish out of the oven and add the tomato mixture. Stir it in well, using the mixture to deglaze the roasting dish, scraping up any bits of caramelized veg from the base and sides.
Add the chickpeas and olives then return the dish to the oven for 20 minutes or so until the sauce is bubbling and slightly reduced.
Remove from the oven, taste, and add a little more salt or pepper if you think it needs it. Scatter over the preserved lemon (squeeze over fresh) tear over any saved fennel fronds and then bring the dish to the table.