Thursday, July 21, 2011

White Bean, Artichoke and Chard Ragout with Fennel Relish

I know this dish might sound complicated, but when you realize that the crock pot does most of the cooking for you, it suddenly doesn't seem daunting at all.

I was a little worried that Abe wouldn't like this at all.  I mean, it's got fennel in it.  Not the go-to veggie for a lot of people.  But I had ordered a box of organic fruits and vegetables delivered to my house from and needed to use the fennel I found inside.  I pretty much hate anything licorice tasting, but for some reason, like it when it's in a savory dish.  So, off I went to find a suitable recipe. 

And surprise!  Abe really enjoyed it.  I think he actually enjoyed it a bit more than I did!   See, things can still surprise you in a marriage even after several years.  Abe did comment that he did like it with a lot more lemon juice than the recipe called for, so I added that, and a few other modifications, to the recipe.  I'm going to write it where you add additional lemon juice to the final product, to taste.  Some of you might not be as big of sour pusses like we are!

Just in case you are wondering what the heck a ragout is (and I did too, so don't worry), it's a French term for main course stew.  There you go, just a fancy term for stew.  Impress your friends next time at dinner when you tell them you're making them a ragout (pronounced ragu).

Don't be tempted to skip the fennel relish.  It makes the dish.  Even Abe, who I suspect doesn't like fennel, said so.  He told me to make double the amount next time.  Look who likes fennel after all!

Oh, and I took the picture before I remembered to add the chard.  Oops!  So, yours will look a little bit different.

Base recipe was found at

White Bean, Artichoke and Chard Ragout with Fennel Relish
Serves 6


1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 large)
1 cup (1/2-inch-thick) slices carrot
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups cooked cannellini or Great Northern beans
2 1/2 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 1 large)
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed red potatoes
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, drained
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 (14-ounce) can vegetable broth
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 cups chopped Swiss chard


1 cup boiling water
6 sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil (or homemade, recipe below)
3 cups shredded fennel bulb (about 1 large)
1 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Lemon wedges for serving 

To prepare ragout, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek, carrot, and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender.

Place leek mixture in a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Add beans and next 13 ingredients (through artichokes). Cover and cook on high 8 low (or 4 hours high) or until vegetables are tender. Add chard; stir until chard wilts.

To prepare relish, combine boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes; let stand 15 minutes or until soft. Drain; chop. Combine sun-dried tomatoes and remaining ingredients; let stand 30 minutes.

Ladle ragout into a shallow bowl, add relish on top and squeeze lemon wedge to taste.

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