I owe a debt to my weekly farm delivery. Beyond the fact that it injects fresh, locally grown vegetables into my life on a regular basis, I’m grateful for the way it has nudged me, time after time, to experiment in the kitchen. Case in point: were it not for my CSA bag, fennel and I would probably be strangers still.
I’d always been skeptical of fennel—what’s up with a vegetable that smells like black jellybeans anyway? For years I managed to steer clear of the stuff, until its long, feathery fronds started reaching from my weekly veggie bag. Besides the fact that it demanded its own refrigerator shelf, there was that aroma. My solution was to regift the bulbs to more open-minded cooks, and we were happy this way, fennel and I, until one adventurous mood changed things forever.
I decided on a whim to roast a bulb. To my surprise when I removed the baking sheet from the oven I was greeted by a tantalizing aroma and golden brown, caramelized chunks of goodness. This fennel was soft, sweet and mellow, in the way roasted vegetables invariably are—with just a hint of licorice. Lesson learned. Fennel’s other side had been waiting for me—patiently, just a roasting-hot oven away. Try it.
Recipes for the Week:
Fennel and Spinach Salad with Orange (or substitute sliced apples and lettuce or other seasonal greens such as kale or arugula)
Caldo Verde (a comforting soup with potatoes, collards and tomatoes)