Valley Bounty: Fennel

I don’t blame anyone for wanting to steer clear of fennel: it’s weird looking, and its anise/licorice flavor profile isn’t one many of us are very experienced with. And yet fennel isn’t exactly hard to find — it shows up at our local famers’ markets, in our CSA shares, and in our grocery stores. What gives? Is there some sort of fennel conspiracy afoot? Are we going to see “Fennelgate” splashed across the headlines soon? Or have we perhaps given this odd little cousin of the carrot short shrift? Let’s try out some new ways to bring more fennel into our lives.

My favorite thing to do with fennel is to caramelize it. Remove the top and bottom of your fennel bulb, then cut it in half and remove the core. Chop what remains into 1/8 inch thick slices, add them to a pan with olive oil (or bacon fat, if you’ve got it handy), and cook them until they’re brown on each side, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let the fennel slices rest on a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. The salt, and the sweetness from caramelizing, balance and give depth to the fennel’s natural flavor. Honestly, these are delicious on their own, or add them to burgers, seafood, salads, etc.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)