When we invited our niece and her friend over for dinner, we wanted to make something special, something different from what they are used to. Our menu included this salad, which we served at room temperature, and quickly became the hit of the party. We used fresh, sweet tomatoes from our garden and loved how they enhanced the savory flavor of the fennel and the starchiness of the white beans. We roasted the tomatoes whole, and while roasting, they burst and seeped their deliciousness into the other ingredients. We based our recipe from one we found on epicurious.com.
1 large bulb of fennel (also called anise)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups grape and/or cherry tomatoes (we used grape tomatoes and two types of cherry tomatoes)
2 large fresh oregano sprigs
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 15-ounce can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop the fennel into 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet, then add the fennel pieces; sprinkle with salt. Cook over medium heat until the fennel browns and softens, turning occasionally, about ten minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, garlic slices, red pepper, and black pepper. Toss together gently and transfer skillet to heated oven. Bake for 25 minutes, then mix in the beans. Bake five minutes longer to heat through. Serve at room temperature.