None of these vegetables come from the same family, but somehow they all seem to emulate each other, and they have a translucent quality in common. As a result they seem to meld together happily like old friends. Any left-overs make a good basis for a soup – mix in a stock cube and some cream, slosh of pink Martini and blend….

For six

  • 1 head of celery
  • 3 heads of fennel
  • 5 medium onions
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried herbes de Provence
  • Smoked salt and Indonesian long black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling
  • 1 tsp soft brown sugar
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C
  2. In your saucepan get a generous amount of water boiling
  3. Remove any really ropey-looking outer stalks and cut off the top of the celery at the stage where it starts to turn green and will just fit into your saucepan, reserve the leaves.
  4. Slice off any brown-looking bits of root without cutting off so much the whole thing falls to pieces. Quarter the head by cutting down vertically through it, first in half and then again through each half. Wash
  5. Drop the celery into the boiling water
  6. Similarly, take off any ropey-looking outer layers of the fennel, trim off the fonds and reserve them. Cut the fennel vertically down into quarters.
  7. Add them to the boiling water and continue to simmer about three minutes
  8. Cut the onions in half, and peel them. Take off any dicey outer layers. Do NOT remove the root (trim it of flayling untidy rootlets). Cut it vertically into quarters.
  9. Oil a roasting tin, take the celery and fennel out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon, and place it in the tin
  10. Add the onion quarters to the water, and boil for about ten minutes
  11. Crush the garlic together with the smoked salt, then mix in the olive oil, the herbes de Provence, the sugar and about ten grinds of the pepper.
  12. Add the drained onion quarters to the roasting tin and pour over the oil mixture
  13. Bake the vegetables in the oven until they start to caramelise – after about a quarter of an hour, turn them over and drizzle over a bit more olive oil
  14. Chop the celery leaves and the fennel fronds roughly and scatter over the vegetables just before serving

 

 

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