Braised Fennel


When I come home from my Saturday morning visits to the Sugar Land Farmer’s Market, the temptation to photograph my finds results in pictures like these.  The fennel, leeks, and spinach lying on my counter here all wound up in different recipes and were delicious.  I sauteed the spinach with a little olive oil and garlic and served with balsamic vinegar.  The leeks went into a quiche. But these beautiful fennel bulbs were the star..  I only discovered fennel a few years ago. We like it raw in salads, roasted, baked with sliced potatoes in an iron skillet, and added to a variety of vegetables. Fennel has a sweet, anise or licorice flavor that’s strongest when it’s raw but much more mellow when it’s cooked.

Most fennel recipes call for just the white bulb. When thinly sliced, the fennel bulb is great in salads — it’s crunchy and slightly sweet and subtly licorice-like, but not as pungent as  black licorice candy. The stalks can be used to make stock, or chopped and sauteed with other vegetables in a mirepoix (a typical French blend of onion, celery and carrot) for a soup or stew. The fronds can be added to salads or used to garnish dishes.

Try this braised fennel!

Braised Fennel

    • 2 fennel bulbs (sometimes called anise; 10 to 12 oz each) with fronds
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup water

Roasted Green Beans and Fennel

IMG_2141Fresh green beans paired with a huge bulb of fennel from the farmers’ market is a new favorite side for me, just as roasting is my new favorite way of cooking vegetables.  These were so pretty before they went into the oven that I posted this before image. They looked great after roasting as well, but we served them up with leftover baked chicken and they disappeared before having their picture taken. I will definitely serve this dish again soon and might experiment with adding some chopped shallots but the flavor was excellent with just the toss of olive oil and sprinkles of sea salt and freshly ground pepper!

Roasted Green Beans and Fennel

4 cups fresh green beans, washed, ends snipped and broken in pieces

1 large bulb fennel, greens and root trimmed, cut into small chunks, rinsed carefully and       patted dry

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place green beans and fennel pieces in baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with  sea salt and ground pepper.  Roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

Christmas Vegetables 2011

This year we had two Christmas Dinners!  Jeremy and his family were here for a few days but had to leave on Christmas Eve day.  So we had our family dinner on the 23rd with our whole family.  Since Christmas Day fell on Sunday, the rest of the family went to church then came back here to have a mid day meal.  Both meals were wonderful…after all, it is not what is on the plate, but who is in the chairs, right?  I am choosing one recipe from each to include here. 

Christmas Day Dinner featured Shrimp Strata, Baby Green Peas, Maple Glazed Baby Carrots, Crispy Potatoes and Fennel, Croissants, and Eudora Welty’s famous White Fruitcake.  This skillet of potatoes and fennel is becoming a Christmas tradition in the Parker house.

Crispy Potatoes with Fennel

1 -2 fennel bulbs

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 lb. small red potatoes, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or use dried French Thyme)

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

You need an old-fashioned 9 or 10 inch iron skillet to bake this due to the high oven heat. 

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Rinse fennel well, trim root end and stalks. and thinly slice bulb.  Add oil to cast iron skillet.  Arrange half of potato slices, layer with fennel slices and then add another layer of potato slices.  Sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cover with foil. Bake at 475 for 35 minutes, uncover and bake 15 more minutes or until potatoes are browned.  Serve hot.  May be transferred to serving dish.  Serves 6- 8.  This is an adaptation of recipe from December 2010 Southern Living. We doubled it, making 2 skillets!

 Our Friday night gathering included smoked turkey and cornbread dressing with roasted root vegetables, Parmesan green beans, and fresh fruit salad of pears, pineapple and pomegranate, Yeast Rolls, and Christmas treats hand dipped by Maddie and Jordannn. 

Roasted Rosemary Root Vegetables

1 large onion1 medium Rutabaga

2 small purple top turnips

1 bag parsnips

3 large carrots

2 sweet potatoes

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Olive oil and sea salt

Peel and chop all vegetables into one inch cubes.  Toss rosemary, olive oil and sea salt in a large bowl, then spread on foil covered baking sheet in single layer.  Roast at 425 degrees until vegetables are fork tender.   Serve at once.

Cook’s note:  We love roasted beets, but if included in the mix, everything turns beet color.  So I roast a few small beets separately and add them on top.  This year, I also added one bunch of tiny white Japense turnips.