Sweet and sour fennel

Fennel is an incredibly versatile vegetable, perfect for exploring various culinary avenues. Have you ever indulged in roasted fennel with a hint of orange, or perhaps a flavorful savory tart featuring fennel and saffron? And let’s not forget about the creamy delight of fennel risotto! Today, I’m excited to share another mouthwatering recipe: sweet and sour fennel, elevated with olives, pine nuts, and raisins. This dish is wonderfully straightforward, cooked entirely in one pan without the need for pre-boiling the fennel. It’s ideal as a delightful starter or as a complementary side dish to fish or white meats. The delicate flavor of the fennel is enhanced by the addition of sugar and vinegar, imparting that irresistible sweet and sour tang. The olives, particularly if you can find Italian taggiasca olives, add a delightful hint of bitterness to the mix. Sweet and sour fennel is a recipe perfect for summer, thanks to its quick preparation and the fact that it’s best enjoyed cold or at room temperature.
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Video recipe of the day

  • DifficultyVery easy
  • CostVery cheap
  • Preparation time5 Minutes
  • Cooking time20 Minutes
  • Serving4 servings
  • Cooking methodStove
  • CuisineItalian
  • SeasonalityEvergreen

Ingredients for sweet and sour fennel

2.2 lbs fennel (1 Kg)
2 tablespoons raisin
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup water (120 ml)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup taggiasca olives (40 gr)
2 pinches salt
q.s. pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

204,23 Kcal
calories per serving
Info Close
  • Power 204,23 (Kcal)
  • Carbohydrates 15,48 (g) of which sugars 10,51 (g)
  • Proteins 3,90 (g)
  • Fat 13,99 (g) of which saturated 1,75 (g)of which unsaturated 3,65 (g)
  • Fibers 6,35 (g)
  • Sodium 207,18 (mg)

Indicative values for a portion of 170 g processed in an automated way starting from the nutritional information available on the CREA* and FoodData Central** databases. It is not food and / or nutritional advice.

* CREATES Food and Nutrition Research Center: https://www.crea.gov.it/alimenti-e-nutrizione https://www.alimentinutrizione.it ** U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov


1 Chopping Board
1 Knife
1 Knife
1 Pan large non-stick, with lid

How to prepare sweet and sour fennel

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To prepare sweet and sour fennel, start by cleaning the fennel: remove the stems and the outermost leaves if they are damaged. Cut them in half and slice them into approximately a quarter of an inch thick (0.5 cm).

Soak the raisins in warm water for about 10 minutes. Take a sufficiently large non-stick pan to hold all the fennel (11 inches – 28 cm in diameter) and pour in the olive oil. Heat it well, then add the fennel. Add two pinches of salt and a grind of pepper. Sauté the fennel for a minute or two, then pour in about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of hot water.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook over low heat for 10-12 minutes. After the cooking time, the fennel will be tender. Remove the lid and let the cooking liquid evaporate. Then add the drained and squeezed raisins and the pine nuts. Mix well and also add the pitted taggiasca olives.

Now it’s time to give the sweet and sour touch to your fennel. First, add the sugar, distributing it evenly.

Carefully mix and let it cook for a few seconds, then turn the heat to high and add the vinegar. Let it evaporate for about a minute, stirring often, until you no longer smell the strong vinegar odor.

Turn off the heat and let the sweet and sour fennel cool before serving. They are excellent both at room temperature and after resting in the refrigerator.

How to store

You can store the sweet and sour fennel in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Tips and variations

Slice the fennel into not too thin slices, otherwise they will completely fall apart during cooking. If you don’t have pine nuts, you can replace them with slivered almonds or coarsely chopped walnuts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What can I use instead of raisins?

Raisins are used to intensify the sweet note of the dish, but if you don’t like them, you can omit them and add an extra teaspoon of sugar to the dish.

What vinegar should I use for sweet and sour preparations?

I use apple cider vinegar because it has a more delicate and aromatic flavor, but if you don’t have it, you can use red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar.

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