I have never liked black licorice. Years ago when I tasted fennel, I was immediately turned off because all I tasted was black licorice (the same reason why I never liked anise). Over the years I found that my preference for fennel was based on how it was prepared. My two favorite preparations for fennel are raw in a salad with oranges and red wine vinaigrette (a great combination) and roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Although I will now eat fennel when I am out at a restaurant, it is not a vegetable I ever buy. Until now. As part of my CSA share I have received full stalks of fennel.
They weren’t really big enough to use to make a salad, especially once I cut away the fronds and stalks, making a fennel soup (which was recommended by the farmers) just didn’t appeal to me, and while the fennel dip I made a few weeks ago was good, I wanted to do something a little simpler. So the easiest thing for me to do was roast the bulbs. Since roasting is one of my favorite go-to cooking methods for pretty much anything, I figured this was the easiest solution. I just tossed the cleaned bulbs with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted for about 20 to 30 minutes at 375 degrees F. It made for a great side dish with other roasted vegetables, including red onions and beets.
Nutrition Note: Fennel has some radical-fighting antioxidant benefits thanks to vitamin C and phytonutrients like quercetin. It is also a good source of fiber, folate, and potassium, which among other things help promote heart health.
Do you like fennel? How do you use it in the kitchen?