A Simple Side Can Be the Centre of Attention

Although my Sunday dinners usually include meat, it isn’t always the star of the dish. Last night’s pork chops were overshadowed by the vegetable side dish, a wonderful medley of vegetables, rather ratatouille-like, cooked in the same skillet as the chops.

I love the combination of pork and fennel, and its fragrance and anise flavour really enhanced the meal. I only have a few pans in the new kitchen, so I added thinly sliced potatoes to make this a one-pot meal.

I wasn’t planning to blog about this, but Brent just reheated some of the leftovers for an evening snack, and it smells so good! I just may have some myself when I finish writing this (now short) post.

This is another one of my throw-it-all-in-the-oven-and-enjoy-yourself-while-it’s-cooking dishes. Once all the chopping and sautéing is done, it’s nice to have a break and rest up for the serious business of eating this tasty dish! (Actually, this recipe would be great with a pork roast too, with the added advantage of a longer resting period for the cook.)

My good dishes are at the new house, but almost no furniture. We set our plates on a couple of stools and sat on the two kitchen chairs that we’ve taken over there. It was like having a picnic in the kitchen!

Fennel and Tomato Medley

Designed to complement pork chops

  • 2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 1 bulb fennel, quartered lengthwise, cored and sliced about 1/4″ thick
  • several cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 baking potato, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced thinly
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • a good splash of red wine
  • 1 28 oz (796 ml) can diced tomatoes and their juice
  • about 1 tbsp dried chopped sage
  • about 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • freshly ground pepper
(I also had about a tablespoon of my sun dried tomato and parsley pesto left over from Saturday’s soup so I threw it into the mix as well. Certainly not essential, but every bit of flavour counts!)
Sear the pork chops in a large skillet with a couple tablespoons olive oil. Once browned, remove to a plate. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, fennel and garlic to oil remaining in the pan, stirring until the vegetables become translucent. Add the red wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the sun dried tomatoes and spices, then the tomatoes and potato. Stir together and try to get the potatoes as submerged as possible. Place the chops on top, put a lid on the pan and put into the oven for 45 minutes to one hour (until the chops are cooked and the potato tender).
I cooked mine at 400° for about 45 minutes because it was late and we were hungry, but I think 350°   for an hour or more might have made the chops a little more tender. But forget about the chops, the really memorable part of this meal was the vegetables:  tender, flavourful and aromatic. We often think of vegetables as a side dish, but sometimes they really steal the show!


  1. A funny coincidence, but we had something quite similar for our Sunday dinner as well…except that we had the pork roast instead. You’re so right about the vegies…the same too with the exception of our use of parsnips. So delicious I could hardly wait for left-overs tonight. I really loved your combination of herbs and wine and who could forget the garlic and onions. We’re definitely trying your suggestions next time and looking forward to it. Oh yeah, and we used our new slow-cooker..a great asset even when you’re not moving.

    • The beauty of this vegetable dish is its infinite variability! The slow cooker is a great idea, especially considering our weekends are taken up with packing, hauling, unpacking. Trouble is, I’m too besotted with my new stove to get out the slow cooker!

  2. Wow! This is right up my alley, from the list of ingredients to the manner of cooking. And with an open bottle of wine to occupy my time while everything’s in the oven, I’d say this dinner is a winner!

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