Potato & fennel with zesty green beans & prawns

Potato & fennel with zesty green beans & prawns

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Ever since going to Portugal on holiday recently, I’ve had a bit of a thing for prawns – hence this recipe, and the last one I posted. I went to Borough Market today to pick up some lovely big fat ones with heads on (the best kind) in order to make this really easy but tasty recipe. It’s formed of a simple potato & fennel bake, and topped with green beans, marinated prawns and orange zest.

I’ve not cooked with fennel really before, and I don’t know why because I love it. In its vegetable state, its quite delicate, subtle and sweet, yet for me has a sort of richness that I associate with really good, food with a huge depth of flavour. The marinade for the prawns also contains fennel, this time in its more pungent and spicy seed form. The overall result is not at all overwhelming – you just get hints, back notes of aniseed. It’s not a punch-in-the-face flavoured dish, which I like because you still get to taste the prawns – arguably, the most important part of the dish!

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You will need:

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut up into 0.75cm thick slices
1 bulb of fennel, fronds removed and reserved, the bulb cut up into 0.75cm thick slices
4 shallots, peeled and quartered
15-20 raw prawns (I used a combination of shelled king prawns and whole tiger prawns)
200g green beans (the eagle-eyed amongst you will notice I also added a few leftover asparagus spears I had)
1 tspn fennel seeds
1 tspn chilli flakes
1 tspn sumac
1 clove of garlic, crushed
the zest of 1 orange
the juice of 1/4 orange
1-2 tbspns toasted pumpkin seeds or almonds, optional
salt, pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Method:

1 – Start by preheating the oven to 190 degrees
3 – Grind up the fennel seeds and chilli flakes and mix with a little seasoning, 3/4 of the orange zest and some olive oil; toss the prawns in this mix and leave to marinate until laterb

4 – Heat a pot of water and once hot, add your potato and fennel; blanch for 1 minute then drain
5 – Scatter the shallot quarters into a oven dish and add half the fennel and potato; season and drizzle with oil before adding the remaining slices of fennel and potato, and add a little more seasoning and oil
6 – Bake the potato, fennel and shallots in the oven for around 20 minutes
7 – When nearly cooked, start your beans; heat some oil in a frying pan and add the beans once hot
8 – Stir fry the beans with some seasoning for around 4 minutes til they’re al dente, adding a little water to the pan to help them cook if you like
9 – Remove the beans from the pan, add a little more oil and tip in your prawns, adding the big ones first if using different sizes
10 – Cook the prawns for 30 seconds – a minute on one side, then add the garlic and then turn the prawns to cook on the other side for another 30 seconds – a minute
11 – Return the beans to the pan and add the orange juice, and then remove the pan from the heat as soon as all the prawns are pink and the mix well combined
12 – Remove the potato and fennel from the oven and dish the prawns and beans on top with the remaining zest, pumpkin seeds (if using) and reserved fennel fronds; serve immediately

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