Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Simple Fennel Salad
Fennel was a vegetable I was alway afraid of. I mean, look at it! It has this big white bulb on the bottom and these light and fluffy tufts of green on top. How would one prepare such a unique vegetable?
As someone who loves black licorice, I was excited to try this vegetable because I heard it was also known as "Sweet Anise." But as I learned from Howard Yoon at NPR, "Anise is a pungent pint-sized herb, while 'sweet anise' — or fennel — is a hearty vegetable with a thick, bulbous base and celery-like stems that grow upward to 5 feet tall. It has a sweeter, more delicate flavor than anise."
However, if you love that thick Anise flavor, save the fronds/ferns that grow at the top of the plant. Yoon explains, "Though all parts of the Florence fennel are edible, the stalks tend to be fibrous, like celery, while the fronds can have an anise intensity that might turn off some people. The thick white leaves of the base offer the most versatile use. When cooked, the leaves become supple, the same way onions lose their firmness, and retain only a faint hint of anise."
I began first with roasting as this is how I try a number of vegetables for the first time because of the ease of preparation and the carmelization of the sugars in the vegetable. However, I had another teacher share with me her love of raw fennel and I had to try it. Now every chance I have to score some fennel, I make this salad.
Simple Fennel Salad.
1 Fennel bulb with ferns still attached
Unfiltered olive oil (or your favorite olive oil)
Fresh ground black pepper
Wash the bulb thouroughly and remove the stalks with the ferns. Set aside for use later. Slice the bulb into rings and place on your plate. Drizzle oil and sprinkle black pepper to taste. Add fern tufts for color and added flavor profile. This last part is optional depending on how much you love Anise. Yum!
One cup of sliced fennel has only 27 calories, 2.7 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein.
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