This vegetable is power packed with flavor and fiber

 

Nikki ElkjerFrom stem to bulb, fennel not only offers great health benefits but also elevates the culinary and gastronomic experience. Fennel is an aromatic plant of Mediterranean origin. Its feather-like leaves and seeds have a light aniseed flavor. Fennel complements lamb and vegetables nicely, and it’s especially lovely in marinades or chopped raw in a salad.

This crunchy vegetable is packed with vitamin C and fiber. Studies show that vitamin C concentrates in the bulb of the fennel, offering antibacterial power and aiding the immune system. Fennel is also rich in potassium.

Fennel becomes available in early autumn. Look for bulbs that are whitish, firm, and solid, having no signs of splitting or bruising. The stalks should be green in color and relatively straight, not splayed much to the sides. Leaves should be green with no signs of flowering buds. Fresh quality fennel offers a fragrant aroma of licorice and anise.

Much like an onion, fennel has layers, making it much easier to cut when some of the base is still intact. Depending on what a recipe calls for, here are tips on how to cut and prepare fennel:

  1. Cut the stalks away from the bulb at the place where they meet.
  2. Cut vertically through the bulb. If the recipe calls for diced or chopped fennel, remove the hard core in the center before cutting.
  3. If braising, baking, or grilling the fennel, first cut the bulb in half. Cut particularly large bulbs once more to make wedges.
  4. For thin slices, cut the bulb in half. Next, lay each half on a cutting board, flat side down. Slice across the bulb in thin, even slices.


Print Recipe
Fennel Salad with Thyme Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 3 bulbs fennel with fronds, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups arugula or fresh greens
  • 1 small red onion sliced thin
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme chopped
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp orange juice freshly squeezed
  • salt
  • black pepper freshly ground
  • Parmesan cheese freshly shaved

Instructions

  1. Combine fennel, fronds, red onion, and arugula in a salad bowl.
  2. In a small bowl or blender, combine thyme, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. While whisking or blending, slowly incorporate olive oil to emulsify dressing.
  3. Gently toss salad in dressing and plate. Finish with a few shavings of fresh parmesan.



Print Recipe
Grilled Fennel and Baby Artichokes

Ingredients

  • 6 large bulbs fennel sliced in half
  • 2 large artichokes or 6 baby artichokes, points trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cut the whole artichoke in half, from top to bottom. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, and steam artichoke and fennel for 10 minutes, just long enough to par cook them. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, coriander, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  3. Gently toss artichoke and fennel in the mixture, letting it marinate for about 30 minutes.
  4. Heat grill to medium high heat, around 375° F.
  5. Grill fennel and artichoke 15 to 20 minutes, until nicely colored and softened.
  6. Remove and set aside to cool about 2 minutes prior to serving.
  7. Serve with hummus or guacamole to the side, and finish with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice.



Print Recipe
Prosciutto Wrapped Honeydew with Fennel and Brie

Ingredients

  • ½ honeydew melon cut into cubes
  • ½ lb prosciutto thinly shaved
  • 1 small round Brie thinly sliced
  • 1 root fennel shaved
  • salt
  • black pepper

Instructions

  1. Lay prosciutto flat on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Layer a thin piece of Brie along with a few shavings of fennel.
  3. Place the cube of honeydew at the end of the prosciutto and roll up the prosciutto until the entire piece of honeydew is wrapped.
  4. Use a toothpick or small skewer for presentation.



Print Recipe
Grilled Loin of Lamb with Roasted Fennel and Sweet Corn Broth

Ingredients

  • Sweet Corn Broth
  • 6 ears corn kernels removed
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • Lamb
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • olive oil
  • 1 8-oz lamb loin trimmed
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 ear corn roasted
  • ¼ cup corn broth
  • fresh curly parsley for garnish

Instructions

Corn Broth
  1. Cover ears of corn, kernels removed, with cold water by 2 inches.
  2. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Strain and slowly reduce the liquid to about 3 cups over medium high heat.
  4. Whisk in butter, salt, and pepper.
Fennel and Lamb
  1. Rub the fennel bulb with olive oil and roast in a 350° F oven for 1 hour.
  2. Heat grill to medium high heat. Rub the lamb loin with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill each side of the lamb loin for about 6 minutes, remove and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
  4. Season the corn cob with salt and pepper. Then grill each side for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool and cut kernels from cob.
  5. Slice the lamb.
  6. Slice roasted fennel and stack in the center of shallow bowls.
  7. Cut lamb loin on a bias into 8 pieces, placing 2 to 3 in each bowl over the fennel.
  8. Spoon the warm corn broth over the bowl, and finish with a sprinkle of grilled corn kernels and chopped parsley.



Print Recipe
Fennel and Beet Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup yellow onion chopped
  • 1 cup fennel chopped (bulb only)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 large beets peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Coat beets in 1 Tbsp. olive oil and salt. Roast in 375° F oven for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  2. Heat remaining olive oil in a sauce pan, adding onion, chopped fennel, and fennel seeds. Sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add roasted beets to the saucepan.
  4. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Using a handheld blender or food processor, puree soup. If using a food processor, allow the soup to cool about 10 minutes prior to pureeing, as hot liquid will overflow.
  6. Whisk in 1 cup of buttermilk, and season with salt and pepper. Reheat over stove and serve. Use fennel fronds as garnish.

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