Herbed Petite Peas, Roasted Fennel, and Artichokes

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  4 to 6 servings
Prep Time:  20 minutes Cook Time:  1 hour 15 minutes

Herbed Petite Peas, Roasted Fennel, and Artichokes

This is one of my favorite side dishes to serve with grilled chops or a hefty fish like salmon or mackerel. The charm of this dish is the mixture of the sweet, sweet peas and the fascinating integration of the dill and the mint. A Mediterranean flair comes in with artichokes, fennel, and lemon. If you are the DIY sort, use fresh baby artichokes, and trim the leaves liberally, scoop out any choke, and cover with foil to cook. They won’t brown, but they will soften and taste fresh. The dish works successfully no matter which you choose.

Ingredients

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted, or 6 to 8 fresh baby artichokes (see Kitchen Tips)

1 large bulb fennel, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (see Kitchen Tips)

3 teaspoons salt, divided

Zest of 2 lemons

2 cups petite peas, fresh preferred, or frozen and defrosted

1½ cups peeled baby fava or baby lima beans, fresh or frozen and defrosted (if favas, peeled fully)

Leaves of 6 sprigs fresh mint, finely minced (see Kitchen Tips)

5 sprigs fresh dill, finely minced (see Kitchen Tips)

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 385°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spread 2 tablespoons of the oil onto each pan. Arrange the fennel on one of the prepared pans in a single layer and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Arrange the artichokes on the other in a single layer and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Scatter the lemon zest evenly over the artichokes. Stir to coat. Toss gently to incorporate.
  2. Place both sheets in the oven and cook for 35 to 45 minutes, until the fennel and artichokes are both completely softened with noticeably browned edges. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the peas, fava or lima beans, mint, dill, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, artichoke hearts, the remaining  2 tablespoons olive oil, and the roasted fennel and artichokes and mix well. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Cover with foil and heat in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until piping hot. Garnish with mint leaves or dill sprigs if you wish, and serve.

Kitchen Tips

  1. Frozen artichokes can be defrosted and used right out of the bag, but if you use fresh artichokes, you’ll have to trim them: Snap off the tough outer leaves of 1 artichoke. Peel the stem. Using a serrated knife, cut off the top half. With kitchen shears or a small, sharp knife, snip off the remaining sharp or spiky tips. Cut in half lengthwise, and if necessary, scoop out the inedible fuzzy choke with a small spoon and rub liberally with the cut side of a lemon half. (You can use the lemons that you zest for the recipe.) Why say “if necessary?” True “baby” artichokes have soft chokes that are easy to eat—and can be cut in half or quartered and grilled, braised, steamed, or even shredded thinly on a mandolin slicer and served raw, since there is no mature choke to choke on. Be careful while shopping, though, since some artichokes (in fact most) sold as “baby” are merely small. They are still great to use, but you should fully expect them to have chokes that are tough and inedible; these must be removed and the leaves should be trimmed with abandon.
  2. To prepare fennel, place it on its side on a work surface; you will see the core at its base. Cut out the core by making two angled cuts on either side of it with a sharp knife, to form a triangle  shape. Discard the core. Peel off any discolored, shriveled or hard outer layers and discard. Cut off the feathery fronds; you can discard them or reserve them for the garnish or for use in a dressing or other seasoning. You will be left with the fennel bulb and its “fingers.” Slice or chop as the recipe indicates. Note that some cooks discard the fingers as well.
  3. You can save a leaf or two of the mint and/or part of a dill sprig to use for garnish, if you like.

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