Caramelized Fennel on Herbed Polenta

Recipe from: My New Roots: Inspired Plant Based Recipes for Every Season, by Sarah Britton


2 - 3 cups vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup polenta
sea salt
1 large or 1 small fennel 
ghee or butter
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoon raw maple syrup
1/4 cup mixed herbs (such as dill, chives, parsley)
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
olive oil


Heat the vegetable broth or water in a large saucepan until simmering. Slowly pour in the polenta in a steady stream, whisking to prevent clumping. Add a few pinches of salt. Stir constantly for a few minutes and then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring every 5 minutes or so, for 30 - 40 minutes. If the polenta becomes too thick, you can add more broth or water and whisk it in. 

While the polenta is cooking, cut the fennel bulb into thin vertical strips. Heat the butter or ghee in a large skillet on medium high heat. Working in batches, add the fennel slices to the skillet, making sure that they all come into contact with the surface of the skillet (not overlapping and in a single layer). Sprinkle with sea salt. Do not stir or move the fennel until it is golden on the bottom, 5 - 7 minutes. When all the pieces have browned, flip them not to the uncooked sides. When the underside has also browned, add a sprinkling of fennel seeds and the maple syrup and let cook for 1 minute. Toss to coat, and transfer the fennel to a plate. Season with more salt if needed. Add the chopped herbs and grated cheese to the polenta, and give it a final stir. Whisk in a little more broth or water if necessary. 

To serve, scoop a portion of polenta onto a plate, then arrange the caramelized fennel on top. Add a drizzle of olive oil.