Okay, okay, I’ve had fennel before, but I’ve never cooked with it. I was almost in hysterics when I was purchasing this large bulb with woody stems protruding out of the bag. It just looks so goofy but looks are often deceiving, and it tastes fantastic. It’s not what you would expect, it has a slightly sweet anise (think licorice) flavor. I find that people either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it, especially when it is paired well. I’ve had it both cooked and raw; both are fantastic, but you can go wrong. I’ll never forget the time I had an entrée of big, beautiful, perfectly seared sea scallops that came with a fennel and white grape salad. The scallops were phenomenal, but the meal was ruined by that salad. The grape/anise flavor did not work, it needed an element of saltiness or acidity to balance it out. One of my favorite raw fennel salads has grapefruit and nicoise olives. It sounds so strange but the flavors and textures compliment each other extremely well.
I decided to go the roasted route incorporating some Greek flavors. I combined the fennel, kalamata olives, Roma tomatoes, broccoli, and red peppers, drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 375 for about 45 minutes.
My complete dish was Hot Tomato Goat Cheese Chicken with Fennel and Roasted Vegetables. The fennel provided a nice crunch and sweet flavor dynamic with the tomatoes and red pepper. The saltiness and potent flavor of the olives were a necessary element in this dish. Over all it proved to be a nicely balanced dish, and I’m going to be using fennel a lot more now! It doesn’t take much to prepare it, and it is packed with flavor. Next time I’m going to try and use it in a raw salad.
To Many More New Food Ventures,
What ingredients have been curious to cook with?