saffron and garlic braised fennel bulb

Simple Saffron & Garlic Braised Fennel

I’m not one to braise things, for no reason really. I’ll roast, sauté, bake, and sometimes fry, but braising isn’t in my usual kitchen repertoire. But this recipe for saffron and garlic braised fennel is so simple and such an easy way to infuse your food with even more flavor, that I think I found a new trick to add to my kitchen routine. Plus, there’s the saffron.

Did you know that saffron is one of, if not the most expensive spice in the world? Some sources say that saffron can cost more than gold itself! Its exorbitant price is due to the fact that the tiny and beautifully colored threads are hand harvested from the Crocus sativus flower, also called the saffron crocus. They add a delectable floral-y honey flavor and brilliant golden color to your plate, and at three tiny little threads per flower, it’s a lot of time-consuming and delicate work to get them there. Its rarity, scarcity, and enchanting prestige only make it that much more exquisite and desirable. What can I say; it’s part of the human condition. Purchase it in small, affordable quantities and store it well. You won’t regret it.

Complications of the human condition aside, this recipe is far from complicated. Fennel may seem like a difficult and mysterious vegetable, but it’s actually incredibly easy to cook. This simple recipe for saffron and garlic braised fennel takes 30 minutes to make and is a unique and flavorful side dish for any meal.

saffron and garlic braised fennel bulb
saffron and garlic braised fennel bulb

food as medicine

Fennel, garlic, and saffron are all incredibly healthy foods. You just can’t beat the feeling of knowing the food you’re putting in your body is actually nourishing you with every bite. It’s the perfect side dish to your Italian- or Mediterranean-inspired culinary adventures.

I’ll confess that I enjoyed it on its own, as a meal in itself. In fact, it’s the kind of delicious that disappears right off the pan before it ever hits your plate. If I had the patience, I would have added this braised fennel to a garlicky-lemony rice bowl with capers, artichoke hearts, massaged kale, and lots of chopped fresh parsley.

If you want to take the nutritional and medicinal content of this dish to new heights, braise the fennel in a potent medicinal vegetable or bone broth.

Fennelexcellent source of vitamin C, molybdenum,
dietary fiber, potassium,
copper, & folate;
good source of calcium,
iron, & niacin
Think digestive health!

anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic,
nervine, tonic
Garlicfull of sulfur compounds
that provide significant
health benefits to our
immune, inflammatory,
digestive, endocrine, &
detoxification systems

excellent source of
manganese & B6; very
good source of vitamin C &
also contains selenium,
phosphorus, & calcium
antibacterial, anti-fungal,
highly antioxidant,
Saffronhigh in vitamins B6 & C,
iron, potassium,
manganese, & magnesium
antioxidant, antidepressant,
aphrodisiac, may help with
PMS symptoms

simple saffron & garlic braised fennel

Recipe by Botany CultureCourse: SidesDifficulty: Easy


Cooking time



A super quick and easy side dish for your Mediterranean-inspired meals. A quick minute under the broiler just before serving gives a beautiful golden color and more robust flavor. If you don’t have access to saffron, you could add any number of fresh or dried herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or bay leaf.


  • 1 medium-large fennel bulb, sliced into ~1/4″ slices

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4-6 whole cloves of garlic, smashed

  • 1 small pinch of saffron threads

  • 3/4-1 cup vegetable or bone broth

  • sea salt

  • a few fennel leaves (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 375F.
  • In the bottom of a cast iron pan or other oven-safe dish, drizzle in the olive oil to coat the bottom. Then, arrange the slices of fennel in the bottom of the dish in a single layer.
  • Add in the smashed cloves of garlic, sprinkle the saffron threads over the fennel slices, and toss in the fennel leaves (or other herbs, if using). Season with sea salt.
  • Pour in the vegetable or bone broth. The fennel slices do not need to be entirely covered, but they should be mostly covered by the liquid. Add as much broth as you need to cover the bottom of the cast iron pan or baking dish and most of the vegetables.
  • Bake at 375F for about 30-35 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Optional: Turn the broiler on high and broil for 1-2 minutes, until the fennel and garlic turn a deeper golden brown color, being careful not to burn.
  • Serve immediately as part of a healthy meal! Enjoy!

This recipe is wrapping up this past month spent deep diving with all the magic and mystery of fennel. If you want the gist, be sure to check out this post on the food and medicine benefits of this amazing and curious vegetable. How much do you love (or maybe don’t love) fennel? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Big botanical blessings to you! Until next time, y’all.

Find Organic Herbs & Spices at Mountain Rose Herbs

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