Fennel, white beans, walnuts …

… tomatoes, olives, capers, white wine, rosemary…
We’ve decided to have a lot of saucy soups and stews this week. Not sure why, it just seems like a good second-week-of-January menu. This particular saucy stewy dish is the kind of meal that is quick and healthy, but that you would make even if it wasn’t, because it tastes so good. Everybody in my family ate it in a slightly different fashion. I had it as a kind of warm salad, over red leaf lettuce and arugula, topped with gorgonzola, which got a little wilty and was really nice with the walnuts and fennel. My littlest son had it with pasta. Which is to say he ate a bowl of pasta and butter. My older son had the white bean … ragu, shall we call it? over gemelli pasta, and my husband had a mixture of pasta and arugula with his ragu. My favorite part of this meal was the walnuts. A nice unexpected crunch, a lovely toasty flavor. This would also be good with rice, or just a nice loaf of crusty bread.

Here’s King Curtis’ wonderful Memphis Soul Stew. I love this kind of song, I really do.

1 large fennel bulb – core removed, damaged outer bits removed, cut into small dice
1 shallot – finely chopped
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 t. fresh rosemary
1 t. basil
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1 can small white beans, rinsed and drained
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup black olives, chopped
2 t. capers, chopped
juice of half a lemon
dollop of butter
salt & pepper
1/2 cup walnuts toasted

crumbled gorgonzola or goat cheese

gemelli pasta, or any other shape you like.

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the shallot and garlic and cook till they start to brown. Add the fennel and cook till it’s translucent and starts to brown.

Add the wine and cook till it’s syrupy. Add the white beans and herbs and spices. Mix to coat everything. Stir in the olives and capers. Add water to cover plus a bit. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till the fennel is quite soft. About 20 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook till they’re softened a bit.

Add the lemon juice and butter, mix in, and then taste for salt and pepper.

Serve over pasta or rice or a bed of mixed greens.

Toast the walnuts in a small saucepan, and then chop them up. Sprinkle them over the ragu. Sprinkle over gorgonzola or goat cheese, or any cheese you like!

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