Fennel and Leeks are natural companions. Whether a simple sauté of the two, or a base for a soup or sauce, their natural sweetness and gentle flavors are aromatic and tasty.
For a quick, week-night sauté that marries well with anything from broiled salmon to baked tofu, start with beautiful fresh ingredients.
Remove root end, the core, and tough stems of the fennel after cutting into quarters from top to bottom. If the bulbs are large, the outer layers may also be rather tough or discolored, so remove one or two. One large or two medium should be fine for a side dish. Save the fronds for garnish, they are loaded with flavor. The tough stems and outer layers can be added to a stock.
Remove the toughest dark green ends of the outside layers of the leeks, don’t take too much! Again, these can be added to stock.
Thinly slice the fennel and leeks. In a pinch, substitute a large sweet onion.
Heat a 12” skillet over medium high, add a tablespoon of olive oil and a little butter, and add the leeks and fennel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and tender, and only just starting to brown on the odd edge.
Plate, and top with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese, and a few reserved fennel fronds to garnish.