Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Roasted Apples and Fennel with Walnuts

Every dish deserves a good side.  When I made my Garlic-Fennel Rubbed Pork Loin Roast, I struggled mightily to come up with a good side dish.  At first, I thought about mashed potatoes, and then truffled mashed potatoes.  Potatoes did not seem to be the best side for the dish, at least for me. 

My thoughts then turned to what is traditionally linked to pork ... apples.  Maybe it was all of those images of a whole pig with an apple stuffed in its mouth.  Wherever that image came from, I had the start of my side dish. 

I then consulted The Flavor Bible for additional ingredients to use in this side dish.  The first ingredient that jumped out at me was fennel, which is a good ingredient to pair with apples.  I was a little cautious at first because the pork roast used both fennel seed and ground fennel in the rub. However, I came to remember something I learned a long time ago ... the taste of the seed and the taste of the fruit or vegetable are not always the same.  Fennel seed and ground fennel provide strong anice flavors, which include some flower, spice and peppery notes.  While fennel itself also provides these flavors, roasting the fennel helps to mellow them. When roasted apples are added, the fennel does not stand out as much. 

In the end, I scoured the Internet to see if there was a recipe that I could use as a guide.  I found one from Country Living and adapted it for my dish.  I also added walnuts to the side dish, which was a suggested pairing for both apples and fennel.  When I served this dish, I added some walnuts, but, in the rush of things, I forgot to toast them.  I would suggest toasting the walnuts and sprinkling them over the apples and fennel just before serving the dish.

Recipe adapted from Country Living
Serves 4-5

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch wedges
1.5 pounds of apples, such as gala apples
1 tablespoon of honey
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 cup of walnuts

1. Prepare the apples and fennel.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss.  Lay the apples and fennel out on a baking sheet in a single layer.

2.  Roast the apples and fennel.  Roast the apples and fennel for twenty minutes.  Turn the apples and fennel.  Roast for twenty minutes more until they are golden and cooked through.

3.  Toast the walnuts.  Heat a pan on medium heat.  Add the walnuts.  Toast the walnuts for a minute or two, shaking the pan to prevent any burning. 

4.  Plate the dish.  Sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the apples and fennel just before serving the dish.


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