Pastries for the most part, are made of simple common ingredients with simple, easily mastered techniques. You start with flour and water, add fat (usually in the form of butter that adds flavour and has the ability to hold air when beaten) and all that’s left is flavouring and filling. Of all the pastries that exist, puff pastry is a favourite as its really easy to work with.
Enjoy today’s quick recipe for healthy sauteed fennel and greens served on top of a crisp, tender crusted puff pastry. Cut this dish into bite-sized pieces for an appetizer to serve many, or pair it with a big salad for a light dinner.
Puff Pastry with Fennel and Greens
Crisp, tender crusted puff pastry with delicious green vegetables.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups loosely packed rapini (leaves and buds)
1 x 500g pack puff pastry (substitute with vegan puff pastry)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the fennel and sauté for 3 – 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, onion and rapini. Continue to sauté until greens are tender, about 3 – 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface to a rectangle and transfer to the baking sheet. Top with the fennel and rapini mixture, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge for it to puff up during baking. Place in the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry is flaky and just starting to brown. Remove from the oven, slice, and serve.
Substitute the rapini with mustard greens like arugula, or spinach (about 4 loosely packed cups) as a delicious stand-in.
This dish tastes amazing paired with a creamy garlic dip.
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Fennel is composed of a white or pale green bulb from which closely superimposed stalks are arranged. The stalks are topped with feathery green leaves near which flowers grow and produce fennel seeds. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible. Fennel’s pleasant and aromatic taste is reminiscent of sweet anise or licorice. The texture is similar to that of celery, having a crunchy and striated texture.
Fennel can grow to a height of 5 feet. The three different parts of fennel—the base, stalks and leaves—can all be used in cooking. Cut the stalks away from the bulb at the place where they meet. If you are not going to be using the intact bulb in a recipe, then first cut it in half, remove the base, and then rinse it with water before proceeding to cut it further. Fennel can be cut in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending upon the recipe and your personal preference. The best way to slice it is to do so vertically through the bulb. If your recipe requires chunked, diced or julienned fennel, it is best to first remove the harder core that resides in the center before cutting it. The stalks of the fennel can be used for soups, stocks and stews, while the leaves can be used as an herb seasoning.
Buying and storing: fennel should be tight and greenish white, with little or no browning or shriveled parts. Store fennel loosely wrapped in the vegetable bin for up to one week – but use as soon as you can. Add fennel to your selection of fresh vegetables from the autumn through early spring when it is readily available and at its best.
Fennel has been grown throughout Europe, especially areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and the Near East since ancient times. Today, the United States, France, India and Russia are among the leading cultivators of fennel. Sweet fennel is primarily grown in Italy, France and Germany. White butter fennel is grown in central Europe and Russia.