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Related Ingredients

Tasting Notes

With its red and green color scheme, this elegant vegetable dish is perfect for Christmas Eve.

Fennel poached in garlic oil still has a mild anise flavor, but the flavorful oil tenderizes the fibrous vegetable. Sweet tomato jam adds another layer of texture, with melted sourdough croutons adding a subtle tang to the jam’s flavor. Shavings of fresh fennel add to the presentation of the dish and top each bite with ribbons of freshness and crunch.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Poach perfect. Fennel is a great ingredient to poach in oil. Its firm texture won’t break down, but the long cooking time helps to soften its fibers.
  2. Save your oil. As the fennel poaches, it also flavors the oil with its subtle anise taste. This flavored olive oil can be used in other preparations, such as vinaigrettes and aïolis.
  3. Jam-tastic. We toast the bread because stale or slightly toasted bread in your jam will absorb more tomato flavor. Keep in mind that tomatoes are more acidic that most vegetables and can take more salt for that reason. Taste your tomato jam for seasoning and adjust as needed.


These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Rubber spatula. While cooking the tomato jam, a rubber spatula scrapes all the tiny bits off the bottom of the pan and helps keep the jam from burning.

The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.

Cutting board and knife
Medium-sized baking sheet with rack
Small baking sheet
Small sauté pan
Rubber spatula or wooden spoon


For tomato jam:

  • 3 medium hot house tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 thyme sprig, picked
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2/3 cup ½” sourdough bread cubes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic oil, or olive oil


For oil-poached fennel:


Serves: 4

Total Time: 3 hours and 45 minutes

Active Time: 45 minutes



For tomato jam:

  1. Heat oven to 300°F.
  2. Cut tomatoes into quarters, and toss with olive oil,  garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Place on roasting rack over a sheet pan and put in oven for 3 hours. The tomatoes should not change color. You want them to still be juicy, but flavors will be more concentrated. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Place bread cubes in a small bowl and coat evenly with 1-2 tablespoons garlic oil (or olive oil). Spread onto small sheet pan and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add tomatoes and their liquid. Add bread cubes and gently stir to fully incorporate bread into tomatoes. Using a wooden spoon, break apart the chunks of softened bread. It should resemble the texture of chutney. Season with salt and pepper.


For oil-poached fennel:

  1. Cut the ends off of the fennel. Cut the fennel in half the long way and remove the core. Separate 4 petals and cut each one into half.
  2. Add the fennel petals to a small pot and cover with the garlic oil or olive oil.
  3. Bring to a simmer over low heat and simmer gently until the fennel is tender, about 4-6 minutes. They are done when a cake tester inserted into one meets no resistance. Remove from the oil and place poached fennel cups upside down on a drying rack over a baking sheet to drain the excess oil.
  4. Shave the rest of the fennel very thinly on a mandolin. Placed sliced fennel in bowl with acidulated water. Serve the tomato jam in the fennel cups and garnish with the shaved fennel.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Hard boiled egg with tomato jam & oil-poached fennel

For a quick vegetarian meal, add a chopped hard-boiled egg to the tomato jam and oil-poached fennel.