Ingredients for 4 people:5 medium size red onions6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (+ 2 for the dish)5 slices toasted homemade Tuscan bread (at least a day old)1-2 tbsp grated pecorino cheese (or Parmigiano) per person½ l meat broth (also made with a stock cube, if you like) salt and pepper (or powdered chilli pepper) to taste
- This side dish is already flavoursome, but if you want an even "stronger" flavour you can add 2 tablespoons of pitted black olives with the capers.
Remove the outer layer and the lower, hard, part of the fennel bulbs; then wash them. Cut them into quarters and then into thin slices with a sharp knife. Clean the salt off the anchovies, remove the bones, rinse quickly under running water and “pat” them dry with kitchen paper. Drain the vinegar off the capers and chop them coarsely. Put 5 spoonfuls of olive oil in a heatproof dish with the chopped garlic and crumbled chilli pepper. Create a layer with half the slices of fennel, then add the anchovies in pieces and form another layer with the remaining fennel. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt (be careful not to add too much because the anchovies are very sapid) and pepper. Put the dish over a very low heat – it should only simmer gently – add a ladle of hot water, put the lid on and cook for half an hour. At this point the fennel should be cooked but firm and also have browned. Add the capers, stir delicately with a wooden spoon and immediately remove the dish from the heat. Wait 10 minutes before serving. This delicious, spicy side dish can also be used to make tasty crostini; put 1 or 2 spoonfuls of the sauce on slices of toasted bread, lay slices of fennel on top while it’s still hot, and finish off with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of pepper.