slow-cooked lamb with fennel

we’ve been away for a few days and came back to a kitchen which was home to 3 bulbs of fennel and not much else. my original plan was to make a pasta gratin, which a friend recommended, where the fennel is complemented with black olives, sundried tomatoes, lemon, oregano.

however, i had a craving for meat so decided to try these flavours and ingredients with a slow-roasted neck of lamb recipe that i've made before. this is wonderfully easy one-dish cooking – three bulbs of fennel and a red onion, all sliced thinly, put in a bowl with some chopped garlic, a handful of black olives (i used kalamata), a few chopped sundried tomatoes and chunks of lamb. add some oregano (dried is fine), the juice and zest of a lemon, olive oil and black pepper, mix together and then roast for c2hours at 160c.

we ate this with a salad of red onions (put them in a bowl with some lime juice, which is discarded after 5-10 minutes, to soften their flavour), cannelloni beans and tomatoes, dressed with olive oil and an extra squeeze of lime juice.

if the weather had been a bit cooler i’d have just added the beans to the lamb dish an hour before it finished cooking – it’s wonderfully forgiving and will adapt to whatever you have in.