Fennel is a food that I’ve been intrigued by. I have watched Giada de Laurentiis cook with it frequently on the Food Network, so I knew it would have to be an ingredient I cooked with on my culinary journey this year.
According to Wikipedia, this vegetable is indigenous to the Mediterranean shores, is highly flavorful, and interestingly is one of the primary ingredients in absinthe. (You learn something new every day, don’t you?!) It’s also very similar to dill, coriander, and caraway (especially with its feathery leaves).
My first whiff of fennel reminded me a bit of licorice, and right away I was looking forward to this week. It’s such an interesting looking vegetable, and I had two recipes that I couldn’t wait to try out.
As for where I picked up my fennel…I visited my local Whole Foods and got some beautiful fennel. Surprisingly, I didn’t find the cost outrageous at all. You might also try local farmer’s markets or your local grocery stores that have a more extensive produce section (Hen House may also carry it, for example).
Recipe #1: Roasted Fennel
My first attempt at cooking with fennel came from a recipe I found on Cooking Light’s site. Their recipe was actually featuring halibut with a caper salsa, but I was more interested in the roasted fennel side they mentioned.
It was ridiculously easy, fast, and only required 5 ingredients. I simply sliced one fennel bulb, roasted it with some olive oil and salt and pepper, and then halfway through cooking, I tossed it with some asiago cheese.
When it was finished roasting, the result was a really tender vegetable. The asiago cheese worked really well to balance out the sweetness of the fennel. This was an absolute hit. I served the roasted fennel with a mahi-mahi fillet and voila, dinner was served.
If you’re looking for an easy, fool-proof way to get your feet wet when cooking with fennel, then this recipe is for you. You won’t be disappointed by the end result…in fact, I can’t wait to make it again!
For the recipe and step by step instructions, click here!
Recipe #2: Edamame and Fennel Salad
This recipe caught my eye because it seemed like a healthy salad option that utilized raw fennel. I thought it would be a great dish to make in experimenting with fennel, since I have already cooked fennel in recipe #1 and this time around to use it raw.
One thing to note is that this recipe calls for fresh savory. I couldn’t find savory anywhere, so I substituted fresh thyme for savory and it tasted great in the dish.
Overall this salad was full of bright flavors and the edamame and fennel worked well together. I had also never worked with star anise before, and I loved that it had the same licorice scent that the fresh fennel had. If you’re looking for star anise, I found it at Whole Foods for a decent price and the jar was full of these beautiful stars.
For this lovely salad’s recipe and step by step instructions, click here.