Do any of you dig fennel like I do??? I've been craving it lately and adding it to at least one side dish each week. It's crunch and freshness promise to lighten the meal, but also pack it with flavor. I like this about fennel. It's both light and powerful.
Don't know much about fennel? Well, let me share a bit...
Did you know that fennel is an herb? From large bulbs, it grows stalks with furry-looking leaves and all its parts are edible. The fennel seeds are a popularly used spice in sausages, meatballs, and rye bread and can be bought dried in the spice section of most markets. Also, the seeds are sometimes used as an after meal breath freshener and digestive aid. The furry-looking leaves are delicately flavored and similar in shape to those of dill. The bulb is a crisp, hardy vegetable and can be sautéed, stewed, braised, grilled, or eaten raw. And, the stalks can be added to soups, stews, and stocks for lots of added flavor.
Fennel is indigenous to the Mediterranean area, so it's popular in both Mediterranean and Italian cuisines. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, and folate.
Here's the first of my fennel recipes that I will share with you. This recipe features fennel in the roasted form, so your home is warmed and filled with yummy smells during the roasting process. Roasted fennel makes a perfect side dish to salmon.
Roasted Fennel with Lemon and Olives
2 fennel bulbs 3 cloves garlic Olive oil 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives 1 lemon Cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the fennel bulbs into small wedges, you should get about 8 wedges from each bulb.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. With your hand, rub olive oil on the foil and arrange the wedges of fennel on top of it. Drizzle more olive oil over the fennel and season well with kosher salt. Roughly chop the garlic cloves and scatter it over the fennel. Place in the oven to roast until tender, 25-30 minutes.
While the fennel is roasting, slice the olives in half and zest the lemon peel.
When the fennel is done, transfer it to a bowl and toss with the olives, lemon zest, and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Serve warm.