Note to self: Cooking with butter is WAY better than cooking without butter.

This is probably the best thing I have ever made. And this is one of the most delicious vegetarian dishes I have ever eaten. Anywhere. Make this THIS week. Or NOW. And it’s remarkably easy to put together for how good it tastes. No description will do this dish justice.

Who wouldn’t love soft, sweet, vegetables over a pillowy bed of quinoa slightly melting the goat’s cheese into a smooth, milky wonderfulness? This is all complimented by the crunch of the fried leeks and fennel seeds with subtle bursts of tartness from the lemon zest, and, of course, the dill adds an unmatchable fragrance.

Although I think this is best over quinoa, you could cook these vegetables on the side and serve it as a side dish, or you could put it over rice, instead of quinoa, or you could choose different vegetables (I want to try this with asparagus), although I wouldn’t stray from the fennel. This is just one of those dishes that is completely adaptable.

Adapted from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves: 3-4 hungry people

What you need:

3-4 tblsp unsalted butter

4-5 tblsp oil

2 garlic cloves; minced

1 large fennel bulb

3 zucchinis; cut into fun shapes (see picture below) or thin slices

1 large leek; cut into coins

2.5 c quinoa

goats cheese for garnishing (*optional)

1 lemon; zested

3 tblsp brown sugar

2 tblsp fennel seeds

1 tblsp salt

3/4 c dill; coarsely chopped (I didn’t have dill when I took these photos, but the second time I made it – no photos! – with the dill, it was WAY better)

How to do it:

First, we’ll cook each vegie separately, so don’t combine them. Trim off the leafy fronds of the fennel and cut the base off as well. Slice the fennel vertically into 1/2 inch thick slices, but leave the bulb intact.

Next, cut the leeks into coins. For instructions how to wash, clean and prepare your leeks, check here.

For the zucchini, trim off the ends, and do one or both of the following: thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise into flat strips. Or, with a paring knife, slice down the length of the zucchini at a slight angle, only going 1/4 of an inch deep. Make a similar incision opposite that one so that they make a slight triangle shape. Then slice into coins. * see photo below for clarification. Set all vegies aside.

In a pot, follow instructions for cooking the quinoa on the box. Let this cook while you do the vegetables.

In a large frying pan over high heat, heat up  about 1 tblsp of butter with 1 tblsp oil. Move your pan around so it all spreads out. When the butter begins to foam, lay the fennel down without crowding the pan. Fry for about 2 minutes or until the side has become lightly golden. Flip, and do the same on the other side for about 1-2 minutes. Remove, and set aside on a plate.

Do this with the remaining fennel, since they probably won’t all fit in your pan at once, and add a little more butter and oil. When you’ve removed the fennel, add more butter and oil to the pan and do the same for the zucchini, and when the zucchini are done, do the same for the leeks.

Once you’ve used up the remaining butter and oil, and you are done frying your vegies, throw the brown sugar, salt, and fennel seeds onto the pan and fry for 30 seconds, moving it around so the sugar doesn’t turn into clumps. Add all the vegies to the pan and fry for another minute, gently mixing it around and caramelizing the vegetables (you want the fennel to remain firm, so just let the sugar coat it). Turn off stove. 

In a large bowl, add the minced garlic and chopped dill and toss all the vegetables with them. Taste and adjust your seasoning. Serve over a bed of quinoa, scatter some goat cheese around the top and garnish with sprinkles of lemon zest. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Caramelized Fennel, Leeks & Zucchini Over Quinoa with Goat’s Cheese & Dill

  1. Katie K. says:

    Take my word as a challenged cook, if I can make this, anyone can. Not only that, but the flavors were DELICIOUS and now I have leftovers for days! Thanks, Lauren 🙂

  2. Ohmigod I am obsessed with Plenty and have had my eye on this recipe for some time. Everything I’ve made from there has been mind-blowingly good! This looks amazing. The flavors and textures combined must be incredible.

    1. It is THE best cookbook in the world. Everything I have made from it was phenomenal. And this truly is delicious – slightly different than his recipe but I hope just as good 😉

  3. Leah B says:

    Yum. Oh my god yum. Stuck on a Friday near Haifa no chance to shop before Shabbat. Will be dreaming about this for days.

    1. It’s definitely swoon-worthy 😉 Shabbat shalom!

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