Tis the season for fennel and citrus so I had two fennel bulbs in my fridge and a surplus of oranges. Of course local fennel is most available around Richmond in October and November (if my memory serves me), so my fennel was a-la-Elwoods. I was just throwing stuff together, perhaps thoughtfully throwing stuff together, but we thought the meal turned out really well. Here's what I did... some of the measurements are approximate since as often happens I didn't measure.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 large fennel bulbs
1/2 tsp. dried, minced orange peal
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. lemon juice
2 whole navel oranges
1 tsp. dried thyme
French Grey Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Using a baking dish with a lid coat the bottom of the dish with olive oil. Lay the chicken breast in a single layer on the bottom. Coat the chicken with lemon juice top and bottom. Cut one of the oranges into 8ths and squeeze the juice over the chicken. Discard the rest of the orange. Cut the peal from the second orange and slice the orange cross ways into disk and lay them over top of the chicken. You should have two orange disk for each chicken breast. Sprinkle the thyme, dried orange peal, over top and add salt and pepper. Core and half one large fennel bulb, removing the outer layer if it's browned or puckered at all. Slice the fennel halves into 1/3 inch thick slices. I put the slices from one half of the bulb in the dish with the chicken soaking in the lemon and orange juices. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done.
While the chicken was sitting... I made a side dish of Whole Wheat Pasta with olive oil, sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic, roasted fennel, Green Olives, a 1/2 cup of Parmesan with a local hard cheese, and a little bit of feta cheese. Put the water on for the pasta. Chop the second bulb of fennel the same as the first. Coat the fennel with olive oil and lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet. I just do my in the oven at 350, turning about every 10 minutes until the fennel is tender, lightly browned and somewhat translucent. While the fennel is cooking saute the onions, mushrooms and garlic then set them aside until the chicken is done cooking and the pasta is ready.
Once the chicken is done baking take it out to set for a few minute and use the time to mix the pasta with all the ingredients... a single large green olive cut into somewhat thin segments and a tablespoon of feta were added per serving.
I will definitely make this again. We had mixed greens with a tarragon mustard vinaigrette along with this. In the end we both ate the chicken mixed with the pasta, enjoying the flavor of the fennel with the orange and green olives. The feta was actually added to the left overs and was not originally included, but I decided it was an improvement.
For another delicious idea check out this Citrus Salad recipe from Mark Bittman's January 15th column in the New York Times. His column 'The Minimalist' is wonderful for simple in season recipes.