With its crunchy texture and delicate, anise-like flavor, fresh fennel is one of our favorite winter vegetables. At the store, you will find the white ovoid bulb attached to long, celery-like stalks with feathery leaves, all of which are edible. When cut, you’ll see that the bulb consists of a core and thick layers, much like onions. The tender bulb tastes equally wonderful eaten raw as part of a crudite platter or in salads. Roasting, baking, or simmering in soups and stews softens fennel’s texture and flavor. The tougher stalks make a flavorful addition to homemade broth, and the leaves can be used like a fresh herb.
To Cup Up Fresh Fennel:
Wash the bulb thoroughly. Cut off the top stalks and the bottom of the bulb.
To make slices for our recipe, cut the bulb crosswise about 1/4 inch thick. For recipes that call for fennel quarters, cut the bulb in half vertically, then cut each half in half again to make wedges; remove the core. For julienne or smaller pieces of fennel, cut the quarters into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then separate the rings into strips and cut as desired.
Roasted Fennel and Apple Nan often opts for this simple veggie side to serve with pork, poultry, or fish. Adding snipped fennel leaves at the end intensifies the anise-like flavor.
2 fennel bulbs
1 small onion, diced
1 small red apple, cored and diced
Salt and ground white pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Snipped fennel leaves and fennel sprigs (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off tops and bottoms of fennel bulbs. (You can save the stalks to use in homemade broth; save some of the feathery leaves for garnish.)
2. Cut fennel bulbs crosswise in 1/4-inch slices. Lay slices in single layer on ungreased baking sheet. Top with diced onion and apple. Season with some salt and pepper. Use pastry brush to cover slices with olive oil.
3. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until some edges begin to brown. Sprinkle with snipped fennel leaves, if desired. Garnish with additional fennel leaves. Makes 4 to 6 servings.