It was one of my mom's favorite vegetables because she swore it improved eyesight. I'm not about to argue, since the strongest glasses I've ever worn are 1.25 readers. My eye doctor says if not for computers, I wouldn't even need these. The same for my mom, although my dad, who couldn't stand the taste of fennel, could not make this claim. Mom also said it helps digestion, which is why a plate of sliced fennel always graced our Thanksgiving table.
And don't throw away the delicate feathery green fern-like fronds. The flavor is more delicate than the bulb, and they make a wonderful addition to soups and salads.
Select: Look for firm bulbs, without cracks, bruises or brown spots. Be sure the bulb is firm and the fronds bright green and fresh looking.
Store: In the refrigerator in a plastic bag. As I said, I buy a bulb a week, divide it into seven portions, and throw the diced green into my daily salad. Day 7 fennel might not be as crunchy as Day 1, but it's still fine.
Preparing: Trim off the tough outer leaves and the core end.
Roasting fennel mellows the flavor, and is my favorite way to cook this vegetable. Unfortunately, roasted fennel will never win a beauty pageant, but it will steal your culinary heart. I promise it elevates any meal you pair it with, even a simple grilled fish or chicken breast. Serve it and let guests guess what it is.
1 fennel bulb
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove tough outer leaves of the fennel, cut a slice from the core end, and remove the stalks and feathery leaves, but please save them to dice and throw into a salad.
- Cut the bulb in half. Rub the outside with olive oil.
- Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay fennel on the foil and sprinkle with balsamic.
- Roast 15 to 20 minutes, until fennel begins to caramelize. Makes 2 servings.