fennel

“The fennel is beyond every other vegetable, delicious. It greatly resembles in appearance the largest size celery, perfectly white, and there is no vegetable equals it is flavour. It is eaten at dessert, crude, and with, or without dry salt, indeed I preferred it to every other vegetable, or to any fruit.” – Thomas Jefferson

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Braised Fennel with Parmesan (adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)

  • 2 T. butter or olive oil
  • 2 to 3 fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine or water
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Chopped fennel greens or parsley

Preheat oven to 325 F. Steam the fennel for 10 minutes, then arrange in a baking dish large enough to hold the fennel in a single layer with butter. Dot with butter or olive oil, season with salt and pepper , and add the wine. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, baste the fennel with its juice, then add the cheese and continue baking until the fennel is completely tender, about 10 minutes more. Serve with chopped fennel greens or parsley.

Fennel with tomatoes and saffron

  • 2-3 large fennel bulbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4-6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, broken into pieces
  • 1 oz. ish parmesan cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fennel greens or fresh herbs, for garnish

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Trim the fennel bulbs of their stalks. Cut most of the base, but leave a little intact to hold the bulb together. Peel off any tough, damaged or bruised outer layers of the fennel. Cut each bulb in half lengthwise and then cut the fennel into wedges about 1 1/2 inches wide.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, fennel seeds, saffron and thyme. Cook until the saffron colors the onions, 2-3 minutes. Then add the fennel wedges and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Once the fennel has some good color add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Then stir-in the tomato paste, stock and 1 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cover. Cook until the fennel is tender, 15-20 minutes. If there is too much liquid, cook uncovered for a few minutes or remove some of the broth.

Pour the fennel mixture into a gratin dish. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in the butter and then add the mozzarella, tucking it in between pieces of fennel. Sprinkle the Parmesan  on top. Place the dish in the oven and cook until the cheese melts and bubbles, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, garnish with fennel fronds or fresh herbs. Serve.

Blood Orange, Beet and Fennel Salad. Recipe modified, just a bit from a recipe originally by the patron saint of our kitchen, Deborah Madison.

  • 2 medium red beets, tops trimmed
  • 2 medium golden beets, tops trimmed
  • 3 blood oranges
  • 1 medium navel orange
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
  • Good-quality extra-virgin olive, pumpkin seed, or walnut oil (for drizzling)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro and/or chervil leaves

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash beets. Wrap in foil; place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, squeeze juice from 2 blood oranges into a medium bowl. Slice remaining 2 oranges crosswise into thin rounds. Place sliced oranges in bowl with the segments. Add lemon juice and lime juice.

Peel cooled beets (if you want. we never do). Slice 2 beets crosswise into thin rounds. Cut remaining 2 beets into wedges. Strain citrus juices; reserve. Layer beets and oranges on plates, dividing evenly. Arrange fennel and onion over beets. Spoon reserved citrus juices over, then drizzle salad generously with oil. Season to taste with coarse sea salt and pepper. Let salad stand for 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Garnish salad with cilantro leaves.

Fennel Egg Salad
Fennel lends a similar crunch as celery, so this recipe is a fun rendition of a classic salad. Great to make ahead of time and enjoy throughout the week. Adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini.

6 large eggs, hardboiled & peeled
1/3 cup finely chopped fennel stalk/bulb
3 Tbsp fennel fronds (leaves)
4 Tbsp sweet onions, finely chopped
4 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
Sea salt & pepper, to taste

Combine peeled eggs (quartered), vegetables and remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Alternatively, you can hand mix them in a boil, in which case we recommend cutting the eggs into smaller pieces first. Use on sandwiches, with crackers, or to top a salad.

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