Magazine article Sunset

Poach, Barbecue, or Simmer It Fennel

Magazine article Sunset

Poach, Barbecue, or Simmer It Fennel

Article excerpt

In cool weather, fennel thrives and becomes quite available in produce markets. Looking somewhat like celery, it has an edible bulb at its base, and woody stalks. Fennel (also called sweet anise or finochio) has a mildly sweet, refreshing anise flavor; it is good raw, alone or in salads.

But cooking accentuates its sweetness, and these four recipes show different ways to prepare it. Sliced and barbecued, fennel shows off the vegetale's dramatic shape. Poached, it can be served as a warm or cold salad. Poached and broiled for a hot entree, it merges with a fragrant orange and cinnamon sauce. braised, it simmers slowly with onions until it becomes creamy in texture and even more mellow in flavor.

To use, trim off woody stalks to within 1 to 2 inches of the head. Save leaves (the wispy feathers) for an attractive garnish. Barbecued Fennel

Cut off and discard woody stems and bruises from 1 large head fennel (about 1 lb.). Rinse, then cut head vertically into 4 equal slices. Trim feather leaves; save.

Brush mustard vinaigrette (recipe follows) lightly over cut sides of fennel. Place on a barbecue grill about 6 inches above a solid bed of hot coals. Grill until fennel is slightly tender when pierced, about 12 minutes on each side.

Place fennel slices on 4 salad plates or a platter. Add flowers (if used) to vinaigrette and spoon onto fennel. Serve hot or at room temperature garnished with reserved fennel leaves, pepper, and lemon wedges. Serves 4 as a first course or to accompany an entree.

Mustard vinaigrette. In a bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons salad or olive oil, 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon minced shallot or ret onion, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme leaves. Add salt to taste. Baste fennel, then mix in 2 tablespoons well-washed wild mustard flowers or pesticide-free pansy petals (optionals). Poached Fennel Salad

1 large head (about 1 lb.) fresh fennel, rinsed

1-3/4 cups regular-strength chicken broth

Pepper mayonnaise (recipe follows)


Cut fennel vertically into quarters. Cut off and discard woody stems; save feathery leaves.

In a 3- to 4-quart pan, bring broth to boiling. Add fennel; cover and simmer until tender when pierced, about 30 minutes. Drain (reserve broth for soup); cool to room temperature, then use (or wrap and chill up to 1 day).

Placed fennel on 4 salad plates or a platter. Spoon pepper mayonnaise over fennel. Garnish with fennel leaves and pepper. Offer remaining pepper mayonnaise from a pitcher. Makes 4 servings.

Pepper mayonnaise. …

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