Monday, July 21, 2008

Aargh! What to do with all this FENNEL!

Treatise on Fennel

What can you do with fennel? Well, like with just about any other vegetable out there - you can slice it, dice it, cook it, mash it, puree, grill, sautee…. but honestly. Fennel is an interesting vegetable, it is related to the seed we know as anise and that is its very powerful flavor tone.
To prepare trim off the stalks - chop and freeze for some other time - or use finely minced in salads, soups or sauces. Carefully wash the bulb and then slice thinly. It can than be baked, grilled, creamed or as a simple side dish sauteed in oil of choice until it is tender and then served with a topping of fresh parmesan cheese. Read on for two simple recipes.

Fennel Salad Nicoise: Serves 6

2 bulbs fennel
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoons sugar or agave nectar
½ teaspoon freshly, chopped basil
2 tablespoons freshly, chopped scallions
1 tomato seeded and coarsely chopped
⅓ cup pitted olives

1. Thinly slice fennel bulbs. Put in saucepan with just enough water to cover. Boil until tender.

2.In a bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and basil. Add fennel and scallions and toss. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. As you are ready to serve add tomatoes and olives.

Fennel Parmesan: Serves 6

2 bulbs fennel
2 cups water
3 vegetarian soup cubes
3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, finely minced - whatever you have on hand ( oregano, thyme, basil, sage etc)
pinch fresh pepper
3 tablespoons guar gum or cornstarch
3 tablespoons parmesan real or vegan substitute
½ cup milk - any kind cow or other
pinch paprika
1 cup white wine

1.Pour yourself the white wine - drink, enjoy and start your cooking. No - just kidding just seeing if you are paying attention. Actually you only need ¼ cup white wine so you could drink the remaining ¾ cup!

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim the fennel stalks off the bulbs and freeze for later use - see above. Trim bottom off fennel bulbs and discard. Quarter each bulb.

3.In a medium size saucepan mix water and soup cubes and add fennel. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4.Melt butter or coconut oil in a skillet - add bread crumbs, herbs and pepper and stir until the bread crumbs are browned. Add parmesan and put aside.

5.Drain fennel - reserve liquid and place in a baking dish. Combine ½ cup of the reserved liquid, milk, paprika and guar gum. Cook and stir until thickened - about 2 minutes.

6.Stir in the wine and spoon mixture over fennel. Top with toasted crumbs and bake for 12 minutes. Garnish with fennel fronds. Enjoy! (with more wine!).

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