My week in food
In the past readers have found it interesting and helpful to see how I have used my share produce in my meals for the week so I thought I would take some time this post to give you my week in food:
Saturday–Family visiting for birthday celebration
Looking for more inspiration? We have another blogger in the “family”. Fellow CSA member Linda Heuser has shared a recipe for a hummus, feta and cucumber sandwich with arugula on her blog Whygoouttoeat.com. Check it out here
It seems fennel gets a bad rap. Some think “licorice” taste and turn their noses, but did you know that fennel seeds are the key ingredient in much-beloved Italian sausage? Also the flavor of roasted or braised fennel is very subtle yet it adds a slightly sweet, delicious touch to a dish. If you have never tried fennel or don’t like it raw, do try it cooked before you turn it down completely.
Fennel is interesting because it is related to other vegetables and herbs that you wouldn’t necessarily put together—carrots, dill, celery and parsley—as part of the Umber group. The whole plant is edible, including its feathery leaves (called fronds), its stems, and its bulb.
Fennel is considered a highly nutritious food, high in important vitamins and minerals including folate, potassium, vitamin C and Manganese. It also contains good amounts of calcium, iron, and magnesium. Yet it is low in calories and relatively high in fiber. It even contains some protein. As if that was not enough, fennel contains significant anti-oxidant properties and thus can help prevent many chronic illnesses, including cancer and arthritis, as well as help reduce inflammation in the body.
Choose firm, white bulbs with no bruises or brown spots. Stalks and leaves should be bright green and crisp. To store, cut off bulb where the stems meet the base and place in plastic. They should last at least a week. Cover fronds and stems with moist paper towel and place in plastic. The delicate fronds will only last a couple of days.
There are many ways to enjoy fennel. Here are a few.
Great used as an herb. It is terrific in salad dressings, especially citrus-based vinaigrettes or creamy ranch.
Fennel fronds also add a lot to cream cheese or sour cream dips and cream or mayonnaise-based sauces.
They are wonderful baked on top of fish or used in poaching broth for fish, seafood or chicken. Add it to your next batch of steamed mussels or clams!!
Fennel fronds make a unique and delicious pesto. See this recipe that was given to us by one of our CSA members (click here). Try roasting radishes and then tossing them with a bit of fennel frond pesto and some lemon juice for a unique side dish.
Fennel stems can be used a lot like celery., although they can be a bit more fibrous. Stems from baby fennel will be more tender than those from older plants. They are great added to chicken or seafood salads; vegetable soups; Italian sausage and tomato pasta sauce; pasta or grain salads; egg salad; tuna salad; or raw vegetables salads.
Try fennel stems in this refreshing shrimp salad. This version was inspired by a Gulf Shrimp Salad recipe from “The Summer House Cookbook” by Debra Ponzek and Geralyn Delaney Graham
Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado Serves 4 (click on title for printable pdf)
You can use fennel bulb instead of stems you prefer. Chop into small dice.
If you don’t have a hand blender, gradually whisk oil into dressing ingredients to emulsify or use a standard blender.
Fennel bulbs are very versatile and can be prepared any way from raw to grilled. The stem end and core of the bulb can be tough so it is a good idea to remove them with a sharp knife before proceeding. Also remove any browned or damaged sections.
Raw fennel is wonderful sliced thin in many different cold salads, especially ones with the addition of citrus. One of my favorite ways to eat fennel bulb is thinly sliced and tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and shaved Parmesan.
A traditional method of cooking fennel is braising, in which fennel wedges are oven or stove simmered in broth and/or wine with herbs. Braised fennel is great with roasted or grilled meat and fish.
Fennel bulb can also be boiled or steamed for use in purees like soups, in mashed potatoes (see recipe below), or to make sauces.
Sauté fennel to add a special quality to stir fry, or add sautéed fennel to pasta sauces or egg dishes.
Grilled fennel is divine. It is helpful to slice it with the stem end attached to keep the pieces from falling apart on the grill. Also be sure to cover the pieces with enough oil to avoid drying it out and keep the temperature lower (or cook with indirect heat) in order to get the fennel tender before it burns..
Serve 2-3 (Click on title for printable pdf)
Who says vegetables aren’t for dessert? The naturally sweet, licorice flavor of fennel lends itself perfectly to sweet dishes. In the following dessert we enjoyed farm fresh rhubarb and fennel, along with local organic strawberries. Delicious!!
The crisp recipe was adapted from Cookie and Kate to be gluten free. A few other changes were made as well. For the original recipe, click here
Candied Fennel (Click on title for a printable pdf version)
– 2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced crosswise (remove core if using large or older fennel)
– 2 teaspoons avocado or other light tasting oil, (use more if not using a non stick pan)
– 1/4 cup Marsala wine
– 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
– scant pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a skillet (non toxic non stick preferred). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook undisturbed for 10 minutes. Uncover and stir. If fennel is not yet tender, cover again and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook, stirring frequently, until fennel is golden brown and caramelized but not burned. Serve atop ice cream, fruit crisps, or fruit compote
Quick Fennel Ice Cream with Candied Fennel Bulb Serves 4 (Click on title for a printable pdf version)
– 1 pint vanilla ice cream or gelato, softened at room temperature
– 2 teaspoons fennel seeds or ground fennel
– 1 recipe candied fennel
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Serves 4-6 (Click here for a printable pdf version)
Please share with us…how do you like to prepare fennel?
Julie Wern is a health coach, food writer, and caterer who is passionate about health, food, and vital living. For direct comments or inquiries please use this contact form to send a message to Julie:
113 Simsbury Road, West Granby, CT 06090