I’m still sharing the recipes from my Spanish dinner party! This is by far my favourite tapas dish I have made, it’s packed full of flavour with a subtle sweetness from the fennel and the leeks go really soft and buttery (My mouth is watering writing this post looking at the photos again!). I based the recipe on the poached vegetables I made a while ago but I also drew inspiration from a braised fennel recipe my mum directed me towards in the “Low Fat No Fat” readers digest book.
For this dinner party I decided to do an online food shop, something I haven’t really done before because I like to see what I am buying (I’m that person stood at the tomatoes for 20 minutes giving them all a good squeeze!) but I just didn’t have much time to drive to the shops after work so I decided it would be a good idea. It wasn’t!! I liked the idea of being able to see how much it would cost before getting to the till and you could easily browse deals but when the shopping arrived they delivered 1 punnet of cheap berries instead of the 3 punnets of organic berries I had requested, I also ordered a chicken to serve 6-8 and they delivered one to serve 2-3 and I ordered 3 fennel and I received one tiny one!! Rant rant :) I think online shopping could be good for an easily adaptable weekly food shop but definitely not when I needed the specific items for each recipe!
So Saturday morning I drove to the supermarket looking for the extra ingredients I needed and after 4 different shops I could not find fennel anywhere!! I was told it’s not the season however Summer/ Autumn are the season for fennel in the uk so that didn’t make sense. So a bit of quick thinking and I substituted fennel for baby leeks, and oooohhhh yes it was amazing!!
I served this dish hot but I made it in advance and then heated it up once the guests arrived. The flavours developed over the day making it even more delicious and it made a nice lighter addition to the tapas starter.
I always plan dishes which can be made in advance such as salads, stews, one pots etc as it means you spend more time enjoying the company of your guests rather than slaving away in the kitchen. It also means you can enjoy a few drinks too! Make pudding simple if you have a family like mine and your a bit tipsy before the main course is done with! ;)
Here is the recipe for this great little tapas treasure-
Serves 6 as part of a larger tapas spread
Vegan/ vegetarian, wheat and gluten free
8-10 Baby Leeks
Knob Sunflower spread or vegan butter of choice
Sprinkle Fennel Seeds
1 Garlic Clove
Small glass White Wine
2 Bay leaves
250 – 300ml Vegetable stock
1-2 tblspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Top and tail the baby leeks and fennel to remove the ends then cut the fennel into thick wedges. In a large frying pan melt the butter then add the fennel, leeks, fennel seeds and garlic and allow the fennel and leeks to begin to caramelise slightly.
Add the wine and allow to boil for 5 minutes then add the bay, stock, seasoning and oil and simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the fennel and leeks are soft.
If making this in advance then once cooked transfer to a serving dish, cover with foil and leave on the side to cool down. Once your guests have arrived just pop in in the oven for 5-6 minutes to heat through.
This would also be lovely served cold the next day with salad or stirred into a pasta dish :)