Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fennel Haters Need Not Apply

Under-appreciated by licorice haters everywhere, fennel gets a bad rep.  It's an incredibly versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw, roasted, braised, grilled, sauteed, stewed - the list goes on.

Seriously, the raw bulb is crunchy and slightly spiced, perfect for fall salads with apples and walnuts or any combination of fruit, nut, vegetable. They'll be a few salad suggestions to follow.

Roasted fennel takes on a sweetness that cuts the licorice edge that so many haters hate on.

In fact, I roasted some fennel and cipollini onions with coriander and lemon. Here is a picture. I'll eat it with grilled pork chops, or leftover roast lamb, or oily, full-flavored fish. Or whatever, it's awesome, you get the point right? (Actually I'm having it with merguez sausage, dbj.)

I've enjoyed the compilation posts thus far (blueberry, tomato) and I think I'll continue with another fantastic ingredient, and one that seldom gets the recognition it deserves.


First up, soups and salads, appetizers and such.

Fennel Apple Spritzer
 - Because we're adults and this doesn't have to be nonalcoholic. I suggest clear Rum, but by all means experiment. Applejack, whiskey, tequila?

Carrot and Fennel Soup - A great intro for those that can't take the full fennel plunge. The sweetness of the carrots helps curb the fennel's bite.

Pickled Fennel
 - Because it wouldn't be my blog unless something was pickled

Quinoa, Fennel, Pomegranate salad - This is for the ladies (come on, quinoa/pomegranate) and the vegans, and the people that make a shitload of one thing and eat it for lunch for a week and want others to be jealous. Lunch people should poach chicken or fry sausage patties in addition.

Fennel, Sunchoke, Apple salad - Wait, salad? Oh yeah, throw some pork on this, and serve it at a fancy dinner party. People won't believe that you know what sunchokes are. (Oh you don't? Here's some info)

Alright, so you've met my friend fennel, and you're ready to invite him to some parties. Cause, you know, he's such a cool guy.

Corn and Fennel Ragu - Comfort food style, you know. Just the word Ragu sounds good. Serve this with hot smoked salmon (aka kippered) and maybe some polenta cakes.

Cornish Game Hens
 - Everybody loves little chickens. Also Meyer lemons which have just come into season make this especially good.

Roasted Squash and Fennel - Sometimes you need to know the basics, this will help you build the dishes that will wow yourself and those lucky enough to join you. And because you want to make an awesome side dish for your lamb, or those frisky vegetarians that are making baked artichokes.

Flavorful Tomato sauce - This is for fun pasta shapes like fusilli, orrechiette, and farfalle. Kid shapes and grown-up sauce.

Alright so you wanna get real on these people. You want to wow them in ways that they didn't even know were possible.

Monkfish with Fennel and Garlic - Because Monkfish is delicious and seldom used by home cooks. Don't be afraid. Embrace.

Octopus with fennel - Fennel and seafood pair so wonderfully, and nobody ever cooks octopus. This will make you feel sophisticated and Mediterranean. Your friends will ask if you learned this in Europe, and you can lie about visiting Crete. Only for the truly badass.

Grilled Fresh Sardines with Fennel and Preserved Lemon - Yeah that's right. You're probably already salivating.

Anyone still have room for dessert?

Apple and Caramelized Fennel Tart - It's a perfect fall/winter dessert.

Bonus Recipe!

Roasted Fennel with Cipollini onions.

One Large fennel bulb
about six cipollini onions
1 tsp. coriander seeds
juice of 1/2 a lemon
zest from 1/2 a lemon
olive oil (to coat)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Cut the fennel in half vertically. Take out most of the core. Cut into strips, try and keep them attached, you want them to be relatively thick. Save some fronds for garnish.

Cut the cipollini's in half so that each half has a little bit of the root end. Take off the skin, but leave the root so that they stay connected.

Toss fennel, onions, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and coriander together until everything is coated.

Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes or until soft and colorful.
Garnish with zest and reserved fronds.

Serve with pork chops or oily fish (mackerel, sardines, etc.)

Later Haters!

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