Fennel is one of my all-time most favorite vegetables. I love them because they are crispy and licorice-y (this is ironic because I do not like anything that tastes like licorice, except fennel), and delicious raw or simply roasted.
Fennel made it's debut at the CSA this week, and I've got 12 fennel plants in my garden, so I am feeling very lucky. I'm including my top three favorite ways to use fennel at the bottom of this post. I plan on spending some time researching and devising more ways to incorporate the fennel fronds and harvest fennel seeds, because I cannot imagine that everyone just throws them out.
Which reminds me....
Do you compost?
I'm curious to know if you do, so drop me a note and let me know. We've been composting for just about a year now, and I'm hoping to mix my compost with the soil in my gardens soon. Can it get any more exciting than that?! I'll be witnessing the full circle of veggie life!
Here are those recipes I promised:
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced in thin strips width-wise
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp of fennel seed or celery seed (optional)
- 1 package of mussels (approx 3 lbs), rinsed and de-bearded
(remember to throw out any opened mussels, or mussels that don't close when you tap them.)
In a large pot, over med-high heat, saute garlic and fennel, until garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown. Add red pepper flakes, tomatoes, and herbs along with the white wine. Bring to a boil, then add mussels. Cover pot and lower heat to medium, simmering mussels in broth, 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. When all mussels are wide-open, remove from heat.
Divide mussels into bowls using a slotted spoon or tongs. Ladle broth over mussels.
Serve with a glass of chilled white wine and plenty of crusty bread.
Note: When I make my hummus, I add the olive oil, lemon juice, and water without measuring. Instead, I taste it as I'm making it, and adjust the flavors as desired.
- a food processor
- 1 can (15-oz) chickpeas
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 fresh lemon (or more if you're making it nice and lemony)
- 1 clove of garlic, raw OR roasted (or more if you're leaning towards a garlic-hummus)
- salt, to taste (I prefer sea or kosher)
Combine all ingredients except salt in food processor and blend until smooth. Taste.
Add salt as needed.
Scoop up with fresh fennel and put in mouth. Chew and smile.
Variations (but I like the above version best with the fennel):
Substitute a chopped garlic scape or two in exchange for the garlic
Substitute half of the chickpeas with black beans and toss in some cilantro
Add scallions, roasted red peppers, and/or shredded carrots for a veggie hummus
- a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet
- a bowl for tossing vegetables
- a bulb of fennel, washed and sliced thickly
- a few carrots, unpeeled and sliced either in thick rounds, or as sticks
- a yellow onion, sliced into thick wedges
Note: It's best if your vegetables are similar sizes/thickness, so that everything cooks in roughly the same amount of time. extra virgin olive oil sea salt pepper (I've also roasted them with a sprinkle of garlic powder or herbs de provence)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
While oven's heating up, cut up fennel, carrots, and onion. In large bowl, toss veggies together with a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and other spices, if desired, and toss again.
Transfer vegetables a roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet large enough so that the veggies lie in a single layer. This is to ensure even cooking, and prevents the vegetables from just getting mushy.
Place pan in oven and let roast for approximately 20 minutes, or until you see the vegetables beginning to brown. Stir once, so that the vegetables roast on the opposite side, and roast for another 20 minutes, or until they are evenly browned and impart a sweet, buttery, roasted flavor.
Serve warm or at room temperature.