Wednesday 1 February 2012

Fennel - pale and interesting

Fresh fennel

I love fennel. Fennel with orange and rocket. Fennel with beetroot and a squeeze of lemon juice to tart up the sweetness. Fennel with fennel. But all fennels are not equal and some can be a little on the tough side, so salad is not always the best option.

Until recently I'd always shied away from cooking fennel - loving it in salad as I do but my mum was the happy recipient of a case of fennel which had piggy backed onto a shipment of oranges from Sicily. The fennels were abundant and had begun to look a little tired so braising was their liberation. When the crunch of a delicious tender fennel has gone gently blanching and roasting replaces the missing element with a subtle sweetness and warm aniseed tone.
A delicious alternative to salad on cold winter days.

Braised Fennel

Quarter and slice the fennel and blanch in boiling salted water with a squeeze of lemon juice (to stop the fennel from browning) until just tender.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a baking dish. 
Dress with olive oil, ground black pepper, approx 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and the same amount of bread crumbs - gently mix up and pop in a hot oven (200 Celsius) for about 10 minutes or until heated through and just browned.

You can cook chicory in the same way - just quarter no need to slice.

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