Mains Recipes Vegetarian

Herbed polenta with caramelized fennel


Sarah Britton is the author of the immensely popular blog My New Roots and the recently published cookbook that carries the same title. ‘Inspiring plant-based recipes for every season’ is the subtitle and that promise is completely fulfilled by this book.

My New Roots offers countless vegetarian recipes that are categorized in seasons, but also a chapter with helpful kitchen techniques (how to make ghee, for instance) and advice for a plant-based kitchen pantry. And although I don’t eat completely plant-based myself, I am genuinely very enthusiastic about this book.

My New Roots is gorgeously photographed and designed with notable care and therefore I wanted to make pretty much everything while browsing the book. The almost too-pretty-to-eat breakfast tart with figs for instance, or the lentil salad with avocado, tzaziki and pea shoots.

The recipes are very extensive and precise, which makes this book suitable for both beginners as well as more advanced cooks. I loved the fact that Sarah never really gets pedantic or pushy with her eating philosophy, but instead inspires with delicious recipes that just happen to be good for you as well. And I feel that’s even more powerful. The gorgeous pictures that Sarah shot herself (and after just completing my first cookbook, I know just how intensive that is!) are a perfect match with the recipes and attention that’s clearly put into this book.

The first recipe I tried was for the herbed polenta with caramelized fennel and I absolutely loved it. The creamy polenta with a touch of sharp cheese and fresh herbs combines wonderfully with the sweet anise flavored caramelized fennel. It’s a dish I will definitely keep on making! In this post, I’m giving you the original recipe by Sarah with my own little additions.


Serves 2


2 cups (450 ml) vegetable broth + more, as needed
½ cup (85 g) organic polenta
fine sea salt
1 large fennel bulb
knob of ghee or coconut oil
2 tablespoons raw fennel seeds
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup (5g) chopped mixed herbs, such as dill, chives, parsley
¼ cup (30 g) grated Pecorino Romano cheese (I substituted Parmesan cheese)
cold-pressed olive oil
herb flowers for garnish, optional (I substituted fennel greens)


1. Heat the vegetable broth in a large saucepan until it simmers. Slowly pour in the polenta in a steady stream, while whisking to prevent clumping. Add a few pinches of salt. Stir constantly for a couple minutes and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep stirring every 5 minutes or so, for 30 to 45 minutes. (Note: some polenta might be done sooner, so check the package!) If the polenta becomes too thick, add more broth or water and whisk until smooth again. The polenta is cooked when you rub a small amount of it between your fingers and it is no longer gritty, but very creamy and smooth.

2. While the polenta is cooking, cut the fennel bulb into thin vertical slices from the top to the base.

3. Heat the ghee in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add some of the fennel slices to the skillet, but make sure they all come into contact with the surface of the skillet and don’t overlap. Sprinkle with sea salt. Do not stir or move the fennel until it is golden on the bottom, after 5 to 7 minutes. When all the pieces have browned, flip them onto the uncooked sides. When the underside has also browned, add a sprinkling of fennel seeds and the maple syrup, and let cook for 1 minute more. Toss to coat, then transfer the fennel to a plate. Season with more salt if needed.

4. Add the chopped herbs and grated cheese to the cooked polenta, and give it a final stir. Whisk in a little more broth or water if necessary.

5. To serve, divide the polenta between two plates and put the caramelized fennel on top. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil and garnish with herb flowers or fennel greens.

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