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THE CONFIDENT COOK

Recipe: Roast little tomatoes still on the vine to garnish plump shrimp with sauteed fennel

Shrimp and Fennel with Roasted TomatoesKaroline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe

Serves 4

Generally, the best tomatoes to eat in the winter are canned. Most fresh tomatoes this time of year are flavorless without a pleasing texture. Sometimes, if a dish or craving calls for those summer orbs, cherry and grape tomatoes are the best off-season varieties. And hothouse options, especially the little ones still attached to the vine, are juicy with a good taste. Give them a boost by roasting or broiling them and you get an appealing charred exterior and concentrated juices. In this dish, some of those small tomatoes are sliced and added to a skillet of sauteed onions and fennel, which creates a sauce with shrimp to serve on golden, crunchy crostini. Roast the tomatoes on the vine to make a base for the shrimp mixture; the little red rounds still on the vine make the most fetching presentation. The dish is made with both fresh and ground fennel. If whole fennel seeds are all that you can find, crush them in a mortar and pestle or wrap them in a cloth, set it on a cutting board, and smash them with a heavy skillet. Chop the crushed seeds for a finer powder. Toss the shrimp with orange juice and ground fennel and pop them under the broiler. Coat baguette slices with a hearty glug of olive oil and give them a minute or two under the broiler to brown. For a bonne femme finish, don't waste a thing. Chop the frilly fennel fronds (the tops that look like fresh dill) that might otherwise be destined for compost, and garnish your plates with a lovely touch of aromatic green.

1pound cherry tomatoes, preferably on the vine
4tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh fennel bulb
1medium onion, chopped
4cloves garlic, 3 finely chopped, 1 left whole
Salt and pepper, to taste
1cup white wine
pounds peeled, tail-on shrimp, deveined
½teaspoon ground fennel
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
½ baguette, sliced into 12 thin rounds

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a large skillet with an oven-proof handle and a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Remove about one-third of the tomatoes from the vine and slice in half. Leave the others on the vine.

3. Remove and reserve the green frilly fronds (tops) from the fennel bulb. Slice the bulb in half. Remove and discard the core. Slice the halves thinly into half-moons.

4. In the skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the fennel, onion, chopped garlic, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until they begin to brown.

5. Add the wine and sliced tomatoes. Bring the liquid to a boil. Place the tomatoes on the vine in the liquid or sprinkle them throughout the pan if they are not attached to a vine. Transfer to the oven and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the whole tomatoes are shriveled and starting to brown.

6. Turn on the broiler. Position an oven rack 6 inches below the element.

7. In a bowl, toss the shrimp with the ground fennel, salt, pepper, and orange rind and juice.

8. Remove the whole tomatoes from the pan. Arrange the shrimp on the fennel mixture. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and starting to brown.

9. Meanwhile, toss the baguette slices with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them in a single layer on the baking sheet. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, watching them carefully, or until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven. Use the whole garlic to rub each slice.

10. On each of 4 plates, place 3 crostini, a cluster of tomatoes, and shrimp. Garnish with chopped fennel fronds.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Serves 4

Generally, the best tomatoes to eat in the winter are canned. Most fresh tomatoes this time of year are flavorless without a pleasing texture. Sometimes, if a dish or craving calls for those summer orbs, cherry and grape tomatoes are the best off-season varieties. And hothouse options, especially the little ones still attached to the vine, are juicy with a good taste. Give them a boost by roasting or broiling them and you get an appealing charred exterior and concentrated juices. In this dish, some of those small tomatoes are sliced and added to a skillet of sauteed onions and fennel, which creates a sauce with shrimp to serve on golden, crunchy crostini. Roast the tomatoes on the vine to make a base for the shrimp mixture; the little red rounds still on the vine make the most fetching presentation. The dish is made with both fresh and ground fennel. If whole fennel seeds are all that you can find, crush them in a mortar and pestle or wrap them in a cloth, set it on a cutting board, and smash them with a heavy skillet. Chop the crushed seeds for a finer powder. Toss the shrimp with orange juice and ground fennel and pop them under the broiler. Coat baguette slices with a hearty glug of olive oil and give them a minute or two under the broiler to brown. For a bonne femme finish, don't waste a thing. Chop the frilly fennel fronds (the tops that look like fresh dill) that might otherwise be destined for compost, and garnish your plates with a lovely touch of aromatic green.

1pound cherry tomatoes, preferably on the vine
4tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh fennel bulb
1medium onion, chopped
4cloves garlic, 3 finely chopped, 1 left whole
Salt and pepper, to taste
1cup white wine
pounds peeled, tail-on shrimp, deveined
½teaspoon ground fennel
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
½ baguette, sliced into 12 thin rounds

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a large skillet with an oven-proof handle and a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Remove about one-third of the tomatoes from the vine and slice in half. Leave the others on the vine.

3. Remove and reserve the green frilly fronds (tops) from the fennel bulb. Slice the bulb in half. Remove and discard the core. Slice the halves thinly into half-moons.

4. In the skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the fennel, onion, chopped garlic, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until they begin to brown.

5. Add the wine and sliced tomatoes. Bring the liquid to a boil. Place the tomatoes on the vine in the liquid or sprinkle them throughout the pan if they are not attached to a vine. Transfer to the oven and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the whole tomatoes are shriveled and starting to brown.

6. Turn on the broiler. Position an oven rack 6 inches below the element.

7. In a bowl, toss the shrimp with the ground fennel, salt, pepper, and orange rind and juice.

8. Remove the whole tomatoes from the pan. Arrange the shrimp on the fennel mixture. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and starting to brown.

9. Meanwhile, toss the baguette slices with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them in a single layer on the baking sheet. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, watching them carefully, or until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven. Use the whole garlic to rub each slice.

10. On each of 4 plates, place 3 crostini, a cluster of tomatoes, and shrimp. Garnish with chopped fennel fronds.Karoline Boehm Goodnick