There is an almost Moroccan sensibility to this dish with a delicious play of sweet and savory. tender-crisp sautéed fennel.
- 2 pound very small fennel bulbs
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground balck pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup almonds, very lightly crushed
- ¼ cup dried currants
- 2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- fennel fronds, roughly chopped as garnish
Trim the fennel bulbs of all but a few inches of stalk and fronds, but leave a bit of both. Trim the bottom and slice the fennel and attached portion of stalk and fronds lengthwise about ¼‑inch thick.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers, but is not yet smoking. Add the garlic stirring to coat in oil. Add the fennel, salt, and pepper. Sauté until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the almonds, currants, coriander, orange zest, orange juice, and a pinch of saffron threads. Stir until the currants plump some, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the fennel and all the liquid to a serving tray. Let come to room temperature. It may be made to this point one day ahead if kept refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
To serve, stir in the cilantro leaves and garnish with some fennel fronds