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Fennel, Pepper, and Saffron Stew with Garlic Toast

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Serves four.

A generous handful of chickpeas and a sprinkling of Manchego cheese make this Spanish-inspired vegetarian stew hearty and satisfying.

  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, more for the bread
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced (2 cups)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, stalks and fronds removed, quartered lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise (4 cups)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise (3/4 cup)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, stem, ribs, and seeds removed and discarded; flesh thinly sliced lengthwise (1-1/2 cups)
  • 3 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 medium cloves garlic (1 minced, 1 whole)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Albariño
  • One 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8  tsp. pimentón (smoked paprika)
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 baguette slices, 3/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese

Heat the oil in a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, carrot, and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add 3-1/2 cups of water, the chickpeas, thyme, pimentón, saffron, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender and the stew has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Position a rack 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Put the bread slices on a rimmed baking sheet and brush both sides with oil. Broil, flipping once, until both sides are golden-brown, about 4 minutes total. Remove from the oven and rub each slice with the whole clove of garlic.

Divide the stew among four wide, shallow bowls, and sprinkle with the Manchego. Serve each with a garlic toast.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 380; Fat (g): 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 130; Saturated Fat (g): 4; Protein (g): 15; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): 46; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 640; Cholesterol (mg): 10; Fiber (g): 13;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Great taste! Doubled the recipe to use 2 fennel bulbs from the CSA. Chicken stock instead of water, subbed parm for manchego and cooking sherry for white wine bc it was what I had. Topped with stale bread croutons. Double recipe feeds 4 (cooks down a lot) by itself for us, did anyone else think it was half the serving size they said?

Delicious. Filling and hearty. Followed the recipe exactly except the first time I made it one medium fennel bulb was not enough to make approximately four cups sliced fennel. So I now use two fennel bulbs which helps since fennel is key to the overall flavor. Love this and have added it to my soup rotation!

This is deceptively simple but filling and delicious! You'll do a lot of cutting vegetables but other than that no difficulties. I followed the recipe as written this time, added just a wee bit of sea salt into the broth as it simmered, and I think that made the other subtle flavors come alive. I was worried that it would be too mild or bland but no- it's a lovely and unusual stew. Served it with garlic toast, and decided that floating the toasts (as in french onion soup) would be great next time. We aren't vegetarians but this meatless dish will be in regular rotation!

this was simple, quick, and really delicious. I absolutely adore fennel, and this is something I've made several times. People who claim they don't care for fennel, loved it as well. Make this, it's lovely!

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this stew! It was amazing!

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this stew! It was amazing!

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