March is all about maple, at least in Canada and the northern United States, since it is the season to start tapping the maple trees! We went to the sugar bush a couple weeks ago for Maple Madness; we lucked out with really nice weather to witness the old and new ways of transforming sap into the beautiful golden syrup we know and love.
I wanted to make a savoury recipe featuring maple syrup since I feel like I’ve drifted toward a lot of dessert/snack recipes. Not that I don’t love those things, but I lately I’ve been eating a lot of chocolate and candy (thanks Easter bunny)! With spring on our doorstep, I want to get into a savoury recipe mindset since we’ll soon be surrounded by lots of local fresh produce 🙂
This has all the requirements of a great side dish: it’s fast, easy, and has few ingredients.
maple braised fennel (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free)
1 large fennel bulb, large stalks removed (leave base in tact)
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 cup vegetable stock
Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil (enough to create a thin layer) in a pan over medium low heat. Cut the fennel bulb into 8 segments, and place into the skillet. Leave ’em alone for about 6-7 minutes, until a golden colour is achieved on the bottom, then flip and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes. Once a nice colour is achieved on the other side, add the stock, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, and black pepper, and cover with a lid. Once the fennel is fork tender (4-5 minutes), remove to a plate. Squeeze a couple tablespoons of fresh lemon juice into the pan, then bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce until syrupy. Pour over the fennel, and sprinkle with a pinch of flakey salt.