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I forgot to take a picture of this beauty the other night, because I had just come home from work and it was already ready to go (thank you my dearest husband!) and I gobbled it right up. The flavor here is amazing. I’m a huge fan of fennel and this tomato sauce does it right. We served it over brown rice to give it a little more heft (and to provide some lunch leftovers for the next day).

braised fennel with saffron and tomato

Braised Fennel with Saffron & Tomato
via Vegetable Literacy

2 large fennel bulbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
good pinch of saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups fennel stock, chicken stock, or water
sea salt
1 tablespoon butter
freshly ground pepper
minced fennel greens or fresh flat-leaf parsley

Trim off the stalks and greens from the fennel bulbs. (Mince the greens for a garnish. If there are none, you can use parsley.) If the outer thick leaves of the bulbs look tough and scarred, as they often do, take a slice off the base to loosen them and set them aside for another use. Halve each bulb lengthwise and cut the halves into wedges about 1 1/2 inches at the widest part.
Heat the olive oil in a wide saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and fennel seeds, crumble in the saffron and thyme and then cook until the steam releases the color from the saffron, after several minutes. Add the fennel wedges and cook them until golden, turning them and the onions occasionally. Once they are well colored, add the garlic, stir in the tomato paste and then add the stock and 1 teaspoon salt. Scrape the pan to release the juices, then cover and simmer until the fennel is tender, another 15 minutes.

Photo: Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

While I try not to make serious resolutions, I do try to get back to eating and being a little healthier once the holidays are over. Husband made this for us last week, and it’s the perfect dish to bring us back to flavorful but healthy dishes. I’d never had delicata squash before, it’s a wonderful mild flavor, a bit like a sweet potato. I’m a big fan of winter vegetables, particularly anything that calls for kale.

roasted vegetable orzo

Roasted Vegetable Orzo
via 101 cookbooks

1 medium delicata squash, seeded & sliced 1/3-inch thick
3 shallots, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil or melted clarified butter
fine grain sea salt
4 medium cloves garlic, peel on
12 kale leaves, washed & dried well, de-stemmed & cut into 3-inch strips
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 cup plain yogurt
For serving: slivered scallions, fresh oregano, toasted nuts or seeds

Preheat the oven to 400F / 205C with racks arranged in the top and bottom thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment. You’re going to roast the squash, shallots, and garlic on one sheet, and the kale on another. Prep the delicata squash, and toss it in a large bowl with the shallots, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and a big pinch of salt. Arrange in a single layer on one of the baking sheets, add the garlic and place on the bottom rack, for about 30 minutes. Spin once or twice along the way to get even roasting – let it all get deeply golden.
After the squash is in the oven, use the same bowl to toss the kale with another splash of olive, and pinch of salt. Arrange the leaves on the other baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until you get a touch of browning, but the leaves are primarily still green. Set aside.
Get the pasta water boiling, salt well, and cook the orzo pasta. Drain and use quickly (warm) OR (if you won’t be serving for a while) run under cold water, and toss with a tiny splash of olive oil.
For the dressing, extract the roasted garlic from its peel, and mash it with a bit of the yogurt and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Work in the rest of the yogurt, taste, and add more salt if needed.
When you’re ready to serve, toss the orzo, and roasted vegetables with about half of the yogurt. Turn out onto a platter and sprinkle with scallions, oregano, and seeds/nuts. Serve the remaining yogurt to the side.

We have this amazing local sausage maker here in Seattle called Uli’s Famous Sausage at Pike Place Market. When I came across this simple but lovely recipe this week, I knew getting a great chorizo would be the key to making this dish perfect. While I was out and about, my darling husband whipped this up with the chosen Uli’s Chorizo Picante. It turned out sooo spicy and so good. I’m looking forward utilizing this again and again with our favorite green, kale.

chorizo with kale

Chorizo with Kale
via stonesoup

2 chorizo, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
1 large bunch kale, finely sliced crosswise
1/2 lemon
handful roasted almonds (optional)

Heat a frying pan on a medium high heat. Add a little oil and the chorizo. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until well browned on the first side. Turn and cook for a few seconds on the other side. Remove from the pan to a clean plate. Add garlic and kale to the chorizo oil in the pan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until kale is wilted and tender. Return chorizo to the pan to warm up. Taste and season with salt, pepper and a small squeeze of lemon.

While the husband and I were in Paris on our honeymoon, we did a bit of shopping. Well, maybe a little more than a bit! One of the shops I fell in love was Ted Baker; I tried on a gorgeous white dress and that was it. True love. I was thrilled to come home and find all the beautiful things available here in the states. Their winter lookbook is dreamy and whimsical, a fantastical interpretation of my favorite season, a perfect color palette of creamy winter whites and bold jewel hues.

images via ted baker