Fennel is a spectacular vegetable, with a distinguished appearance and a flavour to match. It is best appreciated in the Mediterranean, especially Italy, France and North Africa. Here is a delicate Mediterranean-style preparation, full of the region’s sun-drenched flavours.
Remove the fronds from the fennel and trim the bulbs. Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan, add the fennel and whole garlic cloves and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf, white wine and water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, Add the spring onions, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the lid, add the tomatoes, oregano and stock and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Finally stir in the purple basil, add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.