Thursday, February 7, 2008

Legume Love - Cannellini, Fennel & Olives

Delicate cannellini, tumbled with fennel chunks and olive grommets.

Finally. As I continue to sort through an avalanche of astonishing recipes from fine cooks around the globe, it was time I put some beans where my own mouth is with a softly flavored dish, easy to prepare and equally glorious when chilled. Thank you to all who have already shared their kitchen creations for My Legume Love Affair. To those who are considering joining in, the blurry deadline is February 9, with the round-up to be posted the week of February 10. Do stop back. I promise that there will be scores of dazzling savory dishes and sweet treats to suit everyone's fancy. We are a collection of food aficionados who definitely know Jack about our beans.

Canned, the mother of invention.

Fennel, sometimes confusingly known as sweet anise.

Cannellini Beans with Fennel and Green Olives - Slightly adapted from the Williams-Sonoma recipe

(When my chasing after dried cannellini proved unsuccessful, I purchased canned beans, available from a variety of brands.)


2 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans, repeatedly rinsed and drained until the packing liquid is clear

2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons rubbed or ground thyme

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups fennel, cubed (white bulb only)

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 cup vegetable stock

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup green olives, pitted and sliced

3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the broth. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock, ginger, brown sugar, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and thyme to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the stock reduces by almost half.

Meantime, in a large skillet, gently heat the olive oil, then sauté the cubed fennel until browned on all sides. Add the garlic and allow it to heat just until fragrant. If using dried rosemary, add it with the garlic. Remove from heat. Strain the spice solids from the stock, then pour the stock into the skillet with the fennel and garlic. If using fresh rosemary, add it now and bring mixture to a simmer. Add the green olives and lemon juice, then carefully add the cannellini beans, folding them in the stock until well mixed. Simmer gently until just heated through. Do not allow it to dry out and stick to the skillet. Remove from heat, top with the parsley, then salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

All the pretty pebbles lapping in the luxury
of a gently spiced and herbal broth.

Been There, Done That ~

Chickpeas, Rapini and Brown Rice

Other People's Eats
An Inauthentic Dal
Bean Soup


Kevin said...

I have been looking for more interesting recipes with fennel. The fennel, olive and lemon flavours sound like a tasty combination to go along with the creamy beans.

glamah16 said...

I love canneli beans . The olives and fennel sound like great additions to this. I once made a light tuna salad using mashed canneli beans and olives in place of mayonaise.

Suganya said...

Susan, I can see the DSLR magic already. Photos are amazing. Love the wood tones.

Johanna said...

this recipe looks intriguingly light and spicy and unlike anything I usually cook - will try and get a post in for the legume event soon if the cat stops demanding my attention :-)

Wendy said...

That's a stunning picture of fennel. Helps that it's possible my favourite veg. :)
Look forward to the round up.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Interesting combo. Beans and olives work for me, and I'm sure fennel works well with them, too. Looking forward to trying this one out!

Dhanggit said...

Hi Susan, i dont know how you did but these photos are soooo beautiful!! you are such and artist!! specially the fennel..i could smell from here its perfume!! thanks for the recipe too i'll definitely try this, this summer!! :-)

Asha said...

Told ya!! Indians can make millions of dishes with beans, thanks God there are only few hundreds of us in blogosphere!!;D
Enjoy and I can't wait to see the round up, will have to save the whole post!
Great simple but fragrant dish Susan.I have come to LOVE Fennel bulbs, love the aroma of sauteed Fennel!:)
Have a great weekend.

Sagari said...

creamy beans with olives yummmmmmm susan

Nanditha Prabhu said...

loved your pretty pebbles lapping in the luxury of gently spiced herbal broth.....

Vaishali said...

Susan, the dish looks beautiful, and I love the unique and flavorful combination of cannellini, olives and fennel. Sounds like a must try!

Ann said...

Mmmm... and great photos, too! Can't wait to see the round-up!

Astra Libris said...

Such an incredible combo of flavors! I'm impressed! It looks absolutely gorgeous, too...

Ricki said...

If only the boys liked olives! any suggestions for substitute? Can't wait for the round up I am on pins & needles! :-)

Uma said...

Wow, this looks so yummy. Nice pics.

sra said...

You seem to have outdone yourself with the photos! Love the one of the fennel. Don't think I've ever tasted it here.

Simona said...

Cannellini are really good and fennel is delicious, so the two of them together must be heaven on a plate, and your photos make that heaven look close to my fingertips.

shriya said...

I love beans and this recipe sound excessively delicious
As I see from other comments and the pictures, they are really great quality.This is a great recipe and the pictures are stunning.

Meg Wolff said...

What an appealing combination! I will DEFINITELY be by to visit next week, wouldn't miss it. Enjoyed your Maine photos ... thanks for the links.

Lisa said...

This sounds wonderful. I'm a huge olive fan. Certainly a dish I would love to try.

I'm excited to see your roundup of legume dishes. I'd also be thrilled if you would send in an entry to our new soup event. Details here.

We've received quite a few delicious entries so far and I would be most pleased to add one of your tasty creations.

Cynthia said...

That last photograph in particular looks like something out of a glossy magazine. Beautiful.

Susan said...

Dear All - Thanks for your kind comments. I will be responding to each of them (as well as reading your latest posts) as soon as I complete the bulk of work for My Legume Love Affair round-up, coming next week.

Hope you have a great weekend!

katiez said...

What an interesting recipe! I'm so intrigued...I can't imagine the flavor which is unusual for me... I'm going to have to make it to try it....

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Cannellini, even canned, are just one of my most favorite beans. Fennel and rosemary would seem just a perfect match with them. Gorgeous photo of that bean!!

Nora B. said...

They do look like pretty pebbles! This dish looks so flavorsome and nourishing. I am looking forward to the round-up, sounds like it's a huge success. :-)


Sylvia said...

I never try cook with fennel,I had a memories that my mom used, and I don´t like the sweet flavor...but this,,was a long time ago ,and maybe is time to try again...
Your bulb fennel is beautiful

Núria said...

Great combination of ingredients! Qué bueno!!!! Can't wait to see the round up :D

Mona said...

Wow! Tats looks awesome! Love those beans a loooooot :-) Am sure gonna try this out. Thanks for sharing..

Emiline said...

Amazing. This sounds so good to me. The creaminess of the beans, the aroma of the fennel, and the salty olives sounds like a winning combination to me.

bee said...

that is indeed gorgeous. lovely lovely pics.

Dhanggit said...

my dear susan, just wanna send you my big kisses together my warmest message of love for you and your darling. happy valentine's day!

TBC said...

That sounds wonderful. I've never cooked with fennel.
Love the 2nd pic.:)

Shaun said...

Susan, lovie ~ What a substantial dish. I love the playfulness of the ingredients: fennel, cinnamon, olives...And cannellini beans as the sponge, absorbing those great flavors. Truthfully, I've never cooked with cannellini beans and only think of them as a stand-by if for some reason I cannot get my hands on chickpeas to make hummus. Not that that has ever happened, but I'm just sayin'...I know, however, it is common in Italy to pair fennel with cannellini (not sure if it is also common to pair them with cinnamon or not), so I enjoy this elaboration of cucina povere.

Lisa said...

Nice! I love fennel, I love beans, and the spices look delish. Thanks for another loving-beans idea!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

That may be the loveliest shot of fennel bulb I have ever seen.

Lucy said...

The fennel bulb, swathed in her pale green gown is a beautiful image. Yes, the camera makes a difference, but it's the EYE of the camera operator that shines here!

Well, fennel's my favourite vegetable in the world. A combination with those creamy beans and salty olives that's light but glorious. Love it.

Susan said...

Kevin – Fennel is not quite as popular as I would like, not in the U.S., anyway. I wonder if it has to do with it being misnamed as anise. These flavors really do play off each other.
Hi, Coco. Your tuna salad sounds divine.
Thanks, Suganya. And you can thank IKEA for those wood tones. ; )
Johanna – Yes, cats…they *will* demand attention. Willem and I were just talking about his “neediness” the other day. Of course, he won the argument.
Thanks, Wendy. I'm learning more and more why folks love fennel.
Hi, Helen. I was intrigued by the combo, too.
Dhanngit – Thank you, sweet girl. I’m pretty fond of the fennel photo, too.
Asha – Thank you! You certainly did tell me so. ; ) I’m delighted so many Indian cooks contributed to the event. As you know, Indian food is one of my favorites.
Hi, Sugari. Yummmmmmmmmm…you took the word right out of my mouth. Thanks!
Thank you, dear Nanditha.
Hi, Vaishali. Thank you.
Thanks, Ann. The round-up is quite “The Long and Winding Road.”
Welcome, Astra! Thanks for your kind words. Good to see you.
Hey, Ricki! How about green pepper or chopped tomato?
Thanks, Uma. Good to see you.
Thanks, Sra. Fennel’s crunchy like celery, but milder and sweeter without astringency.
Hi, Simona. I adore white beans. Would for a good local Italian grocer; I really wanted to use dried cannellini. Glad you like the photos. Thanks!
Welcome, Shriya. Thank you very much for your kind thoughts.
Hi, Meg! Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the photos, although I am sure you’ve seen those scenes before.
Thanks, Lisa. I’m an olive fan, too. They really pack a lot of flavor in a tiny package. I’m going to try my best to make your soup deadline.
Cynthia – Thanks!
Hi, Katie. I was intrigued, too. Hope you try it at some point.
Thanks, Tanna. Canned beans get a bad rap sometimes, but they worked just fine here. Good to see you.
Hi, Nora. As you now know, the round-up was a huge success. Thanks for helping make that happen.
Obrigado, Sylvia. Fennel is not so sweet as, say, fruit. You might like to try it again.
Thank you, Nuria!
Thank you, Mona. Good to see you!
Thanks, Emiline. The dish was pretty tame until the olives jumped in.
Thanks, Bee. Good to see you.
Thank you, dear Dhanggit. : D
TBC – Thanks. If you are ever interested, fennel is usually found (if stocked at all) near the cabbage and other big greens at a typical supermarket.
Shaun – Cinnamon, to my knowledge, isn’t a natural pairing, but white beans are so mildly flavored that they are virtually a "tabula rasa." This was a nicely nuanced dish, but it definitely needed the salty jolt of olives.

Chickpeas are my go-to bean, too. I always have a couple of big-bruiser cans in the cupboard; they are as much a staple in this kitchen as canned tomatoes.
Thanks, Lisa!
Hi, Susan. Thanks. That fennel is starting to develop a fan club. ; )
Thanks, Lucy. Fennel sure knows how to throw her curves around; she’s quite perfectly sculpted. And now I know what all the fuss is about this marvelously textured and flavored vegetable. This is my first kitchen foray and it won’t be my last.