Mmm, fennel. Pretty much anything with fennel will be better. Unless, of course, you don’t like fennel: it has a very very distinct, particular taste.
I love it. Reminds me of Sambuca, which I adore and reminds me of my childhood. Fennel has a very licorice/anise taste to it, like Sambuca.
I’m not here to talk about my favorite after dinner drink. I’ve Inspiralized this Food Network recipe by adding spiralized sweet potato noodles for a heartier and more colorful dish.
I’m pretty shocked I haven’t made anything this winter yet with fennel, considering how much I love it. Alas, it’s only December.
You can actually spiralize fennel. It’s a bit tricky, but it basically shreds the fennel for you, so you don’t have to hand chop. Check out this post.
However, this dish doesn’t contain spiralized fennel – instead, to turn this into a main dish and add more flavor, I’ve spiralized two sweet potatoes – a white and an orange one. You may be asking yourself, “what do you mean by white and orange?”
Well, let’s take a moment to chat about that.
I’ve gotten a few questions about whether I use sweet potatoes or “yams” in my recipes that call for sweet potatoes. Well, I use sweet potatoes. But there are two types of sweet potatoes: firm and soft.
The firm variety have a golden skin and pale flesh (almost white.) The soft variety have a coppery skin and the insides are orange.
If you’re spiralizing, opt for the soft, orange type of sweet potato – they’re easier to spiralize. The other variety will get jammed in the spiralizer and be difficult to yield perfect spirals, but I wanted to address them today in this recipe.
So you may see these coppery-skinned, orange fleshed sweet potatoes labeled as yams in the grocery store. Why?
According to this helpful article from The Kitchn (pretty much my favorite resource for everything cooking),
“the firm [sweet potatoes] were the first to be produced in the U.S., so when ‘soft’ sweet potatoes began to be produced commercially, there was a need to differentiate it from its firm counterpart. Since the “soft” sweet potatoes slightly resembled true yams, they picked up the name and became what you see labeled as “yams” in most U.S. grocery stores.”
There you have it! Moving forward, you may want to purchase “yams” at the grocery store, but I always refer to them on this blog as sweet potatoes, because they truly are sweet potatoes!
The prep is pretty simple – after spiralizing the sweet potatoes and seasoning them (not seasoned here), you lay them out in a baking dish like this:
Then, you top with quartered seasoned fennel bulbs (not seasoned here) and roast:
Now this recipe has everything – there’s a gorgeous, savory sauce created by the juices from the roasted fennel and the charred tomatoes and then there’s the saltiness from the olives and pecorino romano cheese that’s the proverbial icing on this cake… err, fennel bake.
This works as a main for my vegetarian readers or if you’re craving something with more protein, top it with some salmon, chicken or some chickpeas.
Divine, either way.
How would you eat this dish? As a main or a side?
Nutritional Value & Recipe
Roasted Sweet Potato and Yam Noodles with Fennel, Charred Tomatoes, Olives and Pecorino
- 2 large bulbs fennel quartered*
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled, Blade C
- 1 medium yam peeled, Blade C
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ¼ cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 4 plum tomatoes thirded (is that even a word?)
- 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives halved
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- *to prepare slice the very ends off and then cut the stalks off the bulb so that little to no stalk remains on the bulb. Then quarter.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, toss together half of the olive oil and the potato noodles. Arrange the potato noodles into a skillet or baking dish so that it fits in one layer and season with salt and pepper. In the same bowl, add in the rest of the olive oil with the fennel. Toss lightly and arrange the seasoned fennel on top of the sweet potato noodles in an even layer. Dust with the oregano and season with salt and pepper.
- Add half of the pecorino cheese on top, sprinkling all over to coat the fennel and sweet potatoes. Roast until the fennel is fork tender, about 50 minutes.
- Remove the dish from the oven and turn to broil. Lay the tomatoes on top of the fennel and sweet potatoes, cut-side up. Return the dish to the oven and broil the tomatoes until slightly charred and warmed through, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Remove the dish from the oven and immediately sprinkle over with the remaining pecorino cheese and the olives. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately.