Braised Fennel with Leeks and Eggplant
This is a great side dish. Richly flavored with a variety of textures, it’s deeply satisfying but not too heavy. Nutrient-dense and easy to digest because of the fennel this dish can help you to fall in love with veggies.
Makes 3-4 servings
Extra virgin olive oil
5 fresh garlic cloves, halved
3 small leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise and crosswise, rinsed very well
2 small Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise, thick slices
1 fennel bulb, top stalks trimmed, cut into 8 wedges
1/3 cup mirin
¼ cup spring or filtered water
1/3 cup sweet white miso
Fresh lemon juice
Place a generous amount of oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Lay garlic cloves, sprinkle lightly with salt and lay leeks, eggplant and fennel in pan, trying to avoid lots of overlap and layering (the veggies will brown best if they are not too thickly layered). Cover and when you hear and active sizzling, reduce heat to medium-low and allow veggies to cook, undisturbed, until browned and tender, about 25 minutes.
While the vegetables cook, prepare the miso sauce. Place mirin and water in a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisk in miso and cook over low heat, whisking constantly for 3 minutes. Do not boil.
Remove the cover from the skillet and check the vegetables for tenderness. If any liquid remains, raise the heat and cook until any remaining liquid cooks away. Transfer veggies to a serving platter and spoon miso dressing over top. Sprinkle very lightly with lemon juice. Serve hot.