Sausage Meatball and Fennel Bake from lavender and lovage
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed (green fronds kept for garnish) and cut into quarters or thick slices (I only had one small bulb)
4 large onions, peeled and cut into quarters (only used 2)
2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into small pieces
6 to 8 large carrots, peeled and diced into rounds
(I added about 6 small potatoes, cut into half moons)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
400g pork sausages (I used 1 lb hot italian sausage)
2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 free-range egg, beaten
Step 1 Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 7.
Step 2 Place all of the prepared vegetables into a large oven-proof roasting tin or gratin dish and add the olive oil; mix the vegetables around in the oil so they are all coated and add the fennel seeds, mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 3 Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in pre-heated oven whilst you make the meatballs.
Step 4 Take the skin off all the sausages and discard. Put the sausages into a mixing bowl and mash them all together.
Step 5 Add the breadcrumbs and mix well, with your hands is best, and then add the beaten egg and ground cumin. Mix well once again and shape mixture into small meatballs, about the size of a walnut.
Step 6 Heat a frying pan over a high heat and then add the meatballs and fry quickly to sear and brown the outside. As soon as the fat starts to run and the meatballs are browned, take them out and drain them
Step 7 Take the vegetable bake out of the oven after 20 to 25 minutes and arrange the meatballs over, in and around the bake, cook for a further 25 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked, tender and slightly charred.
Step 8 Serve immediately with salad, crusty bread and the reserved fennel fronds as a garnish.