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Recipe of the week: Roast tomatoes, fennel and chickpeas with preserved lemons and honey

14 April 2018 by

It might seem a hassle to roast the fennel and tomatoes separately, but it does make things easier when you come to assemble this, as each element stays intact and keeps its shape. You can use flat-leaf parsley or mint leaves instead of coriander in the dressing, or extend the dish by adding salad leaves (rocket, watercress or baby spinach) if you like, though then you'll need to make a bit more dressing. You can make all the elements ahead of time. Serve with saffron couscous, it's a great contrast in both colour and texture.

Serves 6

For the tomatoes 10 large plum tomatoes

3tbs regular olive oil

1tbs balsamic vinegar

1½tbs harissa

2tsps caster sugar

Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

For the fennel 2 large fennel bulbs

Juice of ½ lemon

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed in a mortar

Generous pinch of chilli flakes

2½tbs extra virgin olive oil

400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

For the dressing 2 small preserved lemons

2tsp juice from the lemon jar

2tbs white wine vinegar

1½tbs runny honey

5tbs extra virgin olive oil

4tbs chopped coriander

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Halve the tomatoes lengthways and lay in a single layer in a roasting tin or ovenproof dish. Mix the regular olive oil, balsamic vinegar and harissa and pour this over the tomatoes, tossing to coat well, then turn the tomatoes cut sides up. Sprinkle with the sugar and season.

Quarter the fennel bulbs, cut off the stalks and remove any coarse outer leaves. Pull off any tender fronds (reserve these) and cut each piece of fennel into 2.5cm thick wedges, keeping them intact at the base. Toss in a bowl with the lemon juice (it stops them discolouring). Add the garlic, fennel seeds, chilli and extra virgin olive oil, then season and turn everything over with your hands. Spread out the fennel in a second roasting tin and cover tightly with foil.

Put both trays in the oven. Roast the fennel for 25-30 minutes, until tender (the undersides should be pale gold), then remove the foil and roast for another 5-10 minutes, or until soft, golden and slightly charred. Roast the tomatoes for 35-40 minutes, or until caramelised in patches and slightly shrunken. Stir the chickpeas into the fennel and taste for seasoning. Leave both to cool to room temperature.

Now make the dressing. Discard the flesh from the preserved lemons and cut the rind into dice. Whisk the preserved lemon juice with the wine vinegar, honey and extra virgin olive oil, season and add the lemon rind and coriander. Taste for seasoning and sweet-sour balance.

Arrange the fennel, chickpeas and tomatoes on a platter, adding the juices from the roasting tins; there might be quite a bit from the tomatoes. Scatter any fennel fronds you reserved over the top. Spoon on the dressing.

Recipe taken from How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry

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