I pair my homegrown carrots with fennel for a soft contrast to their crunch, adding fennel seeds to brighten the flavors of the dish. Then I add orange zest, orange juice, and honey to accentuate the marvelous carrot-y essence. I braise the duo to gently allow the flavors to meld, then finish the dish by glazing the vegetables with the reduced pan juices and lightly pan-roasting them to caramelize the sugars. —Viviane Bauquet Farre
Test Kitchen Notes
This is a wonderful pairing of flavors: the orange blossom honey, orange zest, and orange juice made the carrots sing. The fennel seeds give not only extra fennel flavor but some texture, too. The freshness of the herbs brings everything together. Great eaten on its own or as a bright and light side for poultry or fish! —Elena-Raluca
1 1/2 pounds
carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch x 3 inch sticks
fennel bulb, ends trimmed, bulb cut in half, each half cored and cut lengthwise in 1/8”-inch slices
strips of orange zest,– each 1 inch x 4” inch (use vegetable peeler)
fennel seeds, –crushed in a mortar
plus 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
coarsely chopped fennel fronds or dill
Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the butter, olive oil, and honey. Stir well and add the carrots, fennel, orange zest and fennel seeds. Toss until the slices are well coated with the oil. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the fennel starts to soften. Add the water, orange juice, salt, and pepper. Toss quickly and reduce heat to between medium and medium-low. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Uncover the pan. Raise heat to high and fast-simmer until the juices have all evaporated and some of the vegetables are golden-brown, about 6 to 7 minutes, tossing only occasionally so as not to break or mush the vegetables. Remove orange zest, transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the fennel fronds, and serve immediately.
Cook’s' note: The carrots and fennel can be trimmed and cut up to 6 hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to use, but the dish is best made just before serving. It does not reheat well.