Click here for last week’s introduction to Spring Cleaning & Spring Eating.

For this first week of recipes we are going to introduce fennel (a crunchy vegetable with a slightly liquorice flavour) and you will create three different meals using the items in your pantry plus a few items that will need to be picked up from the market on your way home from work.  These dishes will all be made from fresh ingredients and will not contain any additives or preservatives. 

Before we get into the recipes I wanted to talk a bit about how to shop.

One thing that we have stopped doing (especially in North America) is shopping daily (or every other day) and shopping locally. In past generations the word organic was nonexistent and people were forced to shop local and in season as there were no other options. With today’s advances in technology and the high demand of pre-packaged and prepared foods, most of the time we do not even know where the food on our plates has come from. 

For these recipes avoid buying large quantities of foods at once. It is ok to stock up on the basics, such as the pantry items that we introduced last week, but when it comes to your produce and proteins you should purchase those on a daily basis to ensure that they are fresh. If you buy large quantities of perishable items it is likely that much of what is purchased gets thrown away. I know a lot of us think that buying bulk and freezing is a way of making our life easier but buying fresh can be just as easy and will taste much better.

Shopping organically can be expensive but not all of your items need to be organic. Only buying your meats and produce organically can help keep your grocery bill to a minimum. Organic foods are rich in nutrients and even richer in flavour, creating a higher quality finished product.

Buying local not only helps support the local businesses and economies in your own neighbourhoods but it ensures that you know where you food has come from. Many of today’s markets now identify exactly where its food was grown, raised or caught. This also ensures you are buying products that are in season, guaranteeing their freshness.  Fennel is in season in the fall and early spring so this is a perfect time to spice up your meals with this flavourful vegetable.

Here is your shopping list for today:

8 chicken thighs – preferably skin on
3 bulbs of fennel
1 yellow onion
3 packs of cherry tomatoes
¼ of a bag of button mushrooms
8 large carrots
1 200gram package of goat feta
Fresh parsley
Sunflower seeds

What you will need from your pantry:

Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chicken stock

The first meal will draw a few items from the pantry as well as most of the items listed above and then we will use leftovers from this meal, as well as the left over produce, to create two other dishes for the following days. 

Here is your first recipe, created by my friend and amazing chef Arimo Evans. He calls it Chicken Dish and it is his favourite meal to cook for his family (I have had the pleasure of enjoying it many times). We have designed the recipe to create two full servings as well as leftovers to use in your meals the following day. Follow this recipe and enjoy.

1 package cherry tomatoes
1 fennel bulb
¼ bag of button mushrooms
4 carrots
1 yellow onion
8 Chicken thighs (Boneless skin on)
Salt and Pepper
Feta cheese (preferably goat)

- Turn oven to 400 degrees F
- Dice vegetables (not the tomatoes) into big chunks and set aside in a separate bowl
- Season chicken with salt and pepper
- Get pan nice and hot and add 1 tbsp of olive oil
- Sear all of the chicken breast (about 2 minutes a side) starting with the skin side down
- Once they are browned remove to a plate or bowl and set aside
- Add onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes
- Add the remaining vegetables, not including the tomatoes, and sauté for another 4 minutes
- Turn the pan off and place each chicken thigh on top of the sautéed vegetables in the pan and then top with the cherry tomatoes.  Put the lid on and toss it in the oven for 50-60 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and serve over barley that has been prepared in chicken stock. Top with fresh parsley and crumbled feta cheese. Click here for a photo.

Tomorrow you will use the leftovers of this meal to create another dinner plus lunch for the following day so come back for the next recipe.