Fennel and Spinach with Tofu

Fennel flowerheads
Image via Wikipedia

Not a recipe from an empty fridge, rather from a fridge packed full with veggies from a freshly delivered organic veggie box!

Fennel isn’t something I usually buy, but it often comes in the pre=packed veggie boxes I order.  Its sharp, aromatic flavor makes it great as a raw food in salads,  or just by itself as a snack.   And that’s how I usually eat it, but lots of people suggest sauteing it, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Breast Enlargement?

On the health side, it’s apparently a good remedy for flatulence, AND used in breast enlargement recipes!  That’s probably due to the phytoestrogens that fennel is loaded with.  I certainly can’t imagine stuffing fennel bulbs in bras, though it could be amusing to see women (or men) walking round with fennel fronds in their cleavage!

Enough nonsense – let’s get to the recipe!

I served this dish on a bed of organic buckwheat fettuccine stirred with thinned basil pesto.  It was good, but I felt it needed something else.  Not sure what.  I kept thinking orange juice in the tofu marinade but didn’t actually add any, so perhaps that would give it a bit more flavour.

These are quantities to serve two people.  Halve the quantities for one, or make enough for two and save the second portion (if you can stop yourself from eating it!)

Fennel. Image via Wikipedia
Allium sativum, Alliaceae, Garlic, bulbils; Ka...
Garlic. Image via Wikipedia


  • 1 fresh fennel bulb
  • 1 wet garlic bulb
  • spinach (I used a salad spinner full of coarsely chopped perpetual spinach)
Fresh Spinach
Spinach. Image by artizone via Flickr
  • 225 grams semi-firm tofu
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove dried garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • coarsely ground salt and pepper

Examples of high-protein foods are tofu, dairy...
Image via Wikipedia

Marinade for Tofu:

  • Chop the tofu into small to medium size cubes (about 2 cm) and add to a bowl.
  • Finely chop, or mince, a clove of garlic.
  • Peel and grate 1 cm of fresh ginger.
  • Mix all together with salt and pepper, and enough olive oil and balsamic vinegar (about 1/8 cup each) to coat the tofu.
  • Let stand – overnight if possible, but if you haven’t planned ahead, give it at least 15 minutes.

The juice of an orange would be really good added to this marinade.  If you try it, let me know how it turns out.

Fennel and Spinach Saute

  • Thinly slice the fennel bulb lengthwise from top to bottom.
  • Thinly slice the wet garlic.
  • Chop and wash the spinach.


  • When you think the tofu has marinated long enough, heat a non-stick frying pan over a med-high heat and tip the tofu, marinade and all, into that.  Cover.  I use a cover because it contains the heat without having to get the pan so hot on the bottom that the tofu burns. You have to frequently uncover and turn the tofu to make sure it doesn’t burn, but  you do want the tofu browned.
  • Meanwhile, start a pot of water boiling for the fettuccine and preheat the broiler in your oven. When you put the fettuccine on to cook, transfer the tofu to a container you can put under the broil (I used a Pyrex pie dish) and finish the tofu off under the broil. You want to get the tofu a bit chewy so you need to cook it lots to get the water out of it.
Olive Oil Bottle
Image by kanshiketsu via Flickr
  • Now you can saute the fennel and garlic in a little oil.  The pan is hot from the tofu, and you want to maintain a medium-low temperature. It takes about 8 minutes to get the fennel softened but not mushy.  The fettuccine also takes about 8 minutes to cook al dente, so everything will be ready together – but don’t forget to turn over the tofu under the broil!!!
  • When the fennel is just starting to soften add the spinach, reduce the heat to low and put a lid on it.
  • By now the tofu should be done, so you can turn off the broil.
  • The fettuccine should also be ready, so you can strain it and mix it with the pesto (I thin the pesto with milk and after draining the fettuccine tip it back into the saucepan and add the pesto mix to the pasta, tossing to coat.)
  • Take the lid off the fennel and spinach and put it on the fettuccine to keep it hot (I only have one lid that fits those two pans!) Add the tofu to fennel and spinach and toss it all together.
  • Serve the fennel, spinach and tofu on top of the fettuccine.

Sesame seeds and grated parmesan would be really nice sprinkled on top, but I didn’t have any.  The tofu had a nice chewy texture.  The dish was definitely wholesome, and the buckwheat pasta has an interesting flavor.  But I still think the dish needed something else.  Ideas?

4 thoughts on “Fennel and Spinach with Tofu

Add yours

    1. Ha ha ha Lee! I’d never tried fennel until I started ordering the organic veggie boxes. The first time it came in a box I had no idea what it was and had to ask. It grows wild along side the road in N. America – not exactly organic!

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