Pearl Onions, Mushrooms, and Fennel

Pearl onions are often underused as a side dish, but their mild flavor pairs well with the earthy mushrooms and sweet fennel. The cornstarch adds a gravy-like sauciness to this dish from the rich juices, but for something a little creamier, add a few splashes of coconut milk at the end of cooking.

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Pearl Onions, Mushrooms, and Fennel

 

2 tablespoons (15mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 pound (454g) frozen pearl onions, thawed and drained
1 small head fennel, thinly sliced
1/2 pound (227g) cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon (5mL) dried oregano
Fine sea or Himalayan salt to taste
3 tablespoons (45mL) water
1 teaspoon (5mL) cornstarch

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pearl onions and cook until they start to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the fennel, mushrooms, and oregano. Cook until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes more. Sprinkle with salt.

Mix the water with the cornstarch in a small bowl to create a slurry. Pour the cornstarch mixture over the pearl onion mixture. Mix well. Turn to low heat and cook for about 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Season with additional salt to taste. Serve warm.

Creamy Roasted Parsnips and Fennel

Spicy parsnips and fragrant fennel bond in a creamy, not-too-rich sauce full of fresh sage flavor. The nuts add just the right amount of texture, in this easy and quick dish that can be adapted to your tastes. Try potatoes and rutabaga with rosemary for another variation. This recipe was also featured on the California Walnuts website.

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Creamy Roasted Parsnips and Fennel

3 tablespoons (45mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound (454g) parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 large bulb fennel, cut into 3/4-inch slices
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (45mL) sweet rice flour (see Note)
2 cups (480mL) unsweetened nondairy coconut beverage, such as So Delicious
2 tablespoons (30mL) finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon (3mL) freshly grated nutmeg
Sea or Himalayan salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup (80mL) finely chopped toasted hazelnuts, walnuts, or both

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Have an 8-inch square glass dish or 9-inch deep dish pie dish ready. Toss the parsnips and fennel with 1 tablespoon (15mL) of the olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until just starting to brown on the edges, about 25 minutes.

While the vegetables are in the oven, put the remaining olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 3/4 cups (420mL) of the nondairy milk. Pour the remaining milk in a small bowl. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Once the mixture on the stovetop is steaming, slowly add in the flour mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly, to create a smooth consistency. Add the sage, and nutmeg. Continue to whisk the mixture until it has thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until the vegetables are finished baking.

Once the vegetables are finished, lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Put them in the dish. Top with the sauce mixture. Sprinkle with the nuts. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbling. Serve warm.

Note: Sweet rice flour leaves a smooth finish, perfect for sauces and gravies. It is also sold under the names “glutinous rice flour” and “mochiko”.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Parsnips, and Fennel

Though potatoes, yams, squash, and carrots are generally the fall side dishes of choice, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and fennel get crispy and sweet when roasted, and folks who think they don’t like them fall in love. A drizzle of Ice Syrup or maple syrup at the end is the perfect finish. If you opt for the Ice Syrup, a unique Niagara product, www.icesyrup.com lists the many local retailers who carry it.

Roasted Brussels, Parsnips, and Fennel with Ice Syrup

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Parsnips, and Fennel

1 pound (454 grams) Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and sliced in half
1 pound (454 grams) parsnips, peeled and cut into thin medallions
1 fennel bulb, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
2 tablespoons (30mL) extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45mL) Niagara Ice Syrup or pure maple syrup (preferably dark or amber)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the vegetables on a baking sheet and toss the with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 35 to 35 minutes, until tender and browned. Drizzle with Ice Syrup or pure maple syrup.