Friday, February 10, 2012

More winter comfort food: Braised aromatic vegetables

Braised veggies with mushroom sauce
We fell totally in love with these flavors. (One secret: sneak just a little bit of butter in the braising liquid.) We had it as a side dish with broiled fish, and had leftovers to enjoy later. For vegetarians, don't use chicken broth in the braising liquid, and consider this dish as a main course, accompanied by whole grain bread and a green salad.

Recipe: Braised Fennel and Leeks
Serves 4 (side)

1 ½ c chicken or vegetable broth
½ c white wine
½ c water
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half
½ c chopped onion
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon
2 T butter (optional)
Salt and freshly ground or cracked black pepper, to taste

3 leeks, white parts only, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
2 fennel bulbs, cored and cut into quarters lengthwise

2 c sliced mushrooms, any type
3 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the braising liquid in a large, deep sided frying pan: add the liquids along with the garlic, chopped onions, herbs, butter (if using) and seasonings. Cover and bring to a boil.
Arrange leeks and quartered fennel in the pan. Bring liquid back to boiling, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a smaller frying pan, heat olive oil over medium and add mushrooms. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, add salt and pepper and remove from heat.
To serve, carefully remove fennel and leeks to a platter; top with sautéed mushrooms.
Note: Strain the braising liquid to remove solids and store broth in the refrigerator for another use—it will be quite flavorful.

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