Roasted Fennel



  • 1-2 fennel bulbs (thick base of stalk), stalks cut off, bulbs halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise in 1-inch thick pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar


1 Preheat oven to 400°F.


2 Rub just enough olive oil over the fennel to coat. Sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar, also to coat. Line baking dish with Silpat or aluminum foil. Lay out the pieces of fennel and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the fennel is cooked through and beginning to caramelize.

Yield: Serves 4.

Apple and Fennel Salad

5 oz.    Pasta (fettuccine style) – cooked
½ lb.     Spinach
1     Small – Medium fennel bulb, sliced
2     Medium tart apples, peeled and cubed
1     Small, red onion, sliced – Scallions would make a good substitute as well

Thoroughly wash spinach, removing fibrous stems.
Dry and place in salad bowl.
Add fennel, apples and onions.
Toss with Vinaigrette. Trim with fennel tops.

Justine’s Favorite Vinaigrette

1 1/2 Tablespoons Mustard
2 Tablespoons Tamari
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ -2/3 cup Olive Oil

(Maggie, my daughter, prefers using Apple Cider Vinegar and she also adds shallots)

Spicy Crusted Tuna Steaks with Braised Fennel
Makes 2 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
2 tuna steaks (5 to 6 ounces, 2 to 3 inches thick)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place medium-sized pan on medium-high heat and add oil to pan.

Using a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, crush fennel seeds into a powder. Place in a shallow bowl, add crushed pepper and mix until well incorporated.

Pat tuna steaks dry with paper towel. Season steaks liberally on both sides with salt and pepper.
Press fennel-pepper mix onto tuna steaks on one or both sides, depending on your preference.
Carefully place tuna steak, mix-side down, into the heated pan.
Cook on each side for 2 to 3 minutes until pink in the middle.
Serve on bed of braised fennel (below).

Braised Fennel

1 medium fennel bulb
1 yellow or red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic, crushed

Remove stems and base from fennel bulb. Cut fennel into 1/4-inch slices.
Chop bell pepper into 1/4-inch slices.
Heat oil in saucepan and saute fennel, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden brown.
Add bell pepper and garlic and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add wine and water, and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, until fennel is fork-tender. Remove cover to reduce liquid for last few minutes.

Fennel and Pomegranate Salad
   Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 medium fennel bulbs
1 medium red onion
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges
Shavings of Pecorino or Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice fennel and red onion as thinly as possible, being careful to remove the tough root of the fennel bulb.

Toss gently in large bowl with lemon juice and olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Before serving, toss again, add pomegranate seeds and mandarin oranges.
Add cheese, and salt and pepper, if desired.

Fennel and Sausage Pasta
    Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 links of hot Italian sausage, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 bulb fennel, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoon lightly crushed fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 16-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and smashed with hands
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage until cooked through. Drain excess fat from pan.

Add remaining tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and add fennel slices and fennel seeds. Cook 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic, tomatoes and crushed red pepper.
Cover skillet, reduce heat and simmer an additional 6 to 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with fresh-cooked Rotini pasta or spaghetti.

FENNEL  (from NPR)

If you've never cooked with fennel, you're not alone. For years, I avoided the bulbous green and white vegetable labeled "sweet anise" because I associated it with black licorice. Who in their right mind would want to taste black licorice at the dinner table?

But then I learned anise and "sweet anise" are two very different things. Anise is a pungent pint-sized herb, while "sweet anise" — or fennel — is a hearty vegetable with a thick, bulbous base and celery-like stems that grow upward to 5 feet tall. It has a sweeter, more delicate flavor than anise.

Fennel's subtle flavor works just fine on its own, but does wonders when combined with other foods. Indeed, fennel's strength may be its power to blend and enhance other flavors. Tuna tastes more tuna-like when cooked with fennel. A simple salad of oranges, red onion and lemon vinaigrette has more zing with the addition of crunchy, raw fennel. Grilled sea bass becomes emblematic of Mediterranean cuisine when stuffed with lemon slices and fennel fronds.

The fennel in the produce section of a grocery store is Florence fennel, or finocchio. On top are fragrant emerald fronds that look much like dill. Below are stout stalks that resemble celery and shoot upward like fingers being counted. The edible white "bulb" is actually not a bulb at all, but tightly stacked leaves that unpack like the base of a celery stalk.

Though all parts of the Florence fennel are edible, the stalks tend to be fibrous, like celery, while the fronds can have an anise intensity that might turn off some people. The thick white leaves of the base offer the most versatile use. When cooked, the leaves become supple, the same way onions lose their firmness, and retain only a faint hint of anise.

If you have never tried fennel as a vegetable, you've almost certainly tasted it in its other form: a spice. The greenish-brown seeds from the variety called common fennel are used to season Italian sausages, meaty stews and rustic breads. When ground up, the spice is used in rubs for fish, pork and lamb dishes and in other spice mixes. Fennel spice also is a key ingredient in Indian curries and is one of the five essential spices in Chinese five-spice powder.

And if all this isn't enough, this versatile vegetable has been used throughout history to cure stomach ailments, freshen breath and help fight weight gain. It also is high in vitamin C.

So if, like me, you've passed fennel by in the produce section, take a second look.

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