Simply Fresh by Julie Wern–Week 3

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:

     Tuesday:

  • Wild canned salmon on lettuce with radishes, snap peas, and pea shoots
  • Grass fed beef burgers with homemade sauerkraut
  • Spinach and Swiss chard sautéed with garlic.

     Wednesday:IMG_0838

  • Shrimp stir fry with Napa cabbage, snow peas, bok choy and scallions

     Thursday:

     Friday:

  • Leftovers

     Saturday–Family visiting for birthday celebration

  • Pulled pork
  • Napa cabbage slaw
  • Green salad with radishes, snap peas, and pea shoots
  • Strawberry and rhubarb crisp with fennel ice cream and candied fennel (see recipe below)

     Sunday:

  • Green smoothie with spinach
  • Chicken lemongrass meatballs in a green curry broth with Napa cabbage and snow peas
  • Roasted radishes with fennel pesto and lemon.

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

fennel-1311672_1280Featured Item—Fennel

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.

Fronds

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.

Stems

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
IMG_0840

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 pound large shrimp, roughly chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, cubed
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced fennel stem
  • 2 tablespoons minced fennel fronds , feathery leaves only
  • 1 cup halved red grapes
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 4 cups salad greens of choice

METHOD:

  1. Zest 1 teaspoon from grapefruit and place in a tall container wide enough to comfortably contain the handle of a hand blender (a tall used ricotta container works well). This container will be used for making the dressing. Using a sharp knife, cut around grapefruit to remove peel and white pith. Cutting over dressing container in order to catch juices, cut grapefruit between membranes to release sections of pulp. Cut grapefruit sections in half and place in a separate medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Squeeze resulting grapefruit membrane over dressing container to remove all juices. Discard membrane. Add lemon juice, olive oil, shallot and honey to grapefruit juice and zest. Using a hand blender, blend until smooth and emulsified. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. To the medium bowl containing the grapefruit, add the shrimp, avocado, fennel stem, grapes, and fennel fronds. Toss gently to mix. Add dressing to taste (you may not need to use all of it).
  4. Place 1 cup greens on each plate and top with a serving of shrimp salad. Sprinkle with almonds and serve.

NOTES:

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.

Bulbs

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..

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IMG_0840

Fennel and Snap Pea Slaw with Dill and Fennel Frond Vinaigrette

Serve 2-3

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium baby fennel bulbs with leaves
  • 1 cup snap peas, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey or agave
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced dill
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced fennel fronds
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  1. Blend lemon juice, wine vinegar, shallot, mustard, honey and salt until smooth and emulsified (it may be easiest to use a stick blender for this small amount of vinaigrette). Stir in dill and fennel fronds. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
  1. Cut stems off of fennel and reserve for another use. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, cut fennel bulb into thin strips. Place in a medium bowl with thinly sliced snap peas. Toss with vinaigrette to taste (you may decide you don’t want to use all the dressing). Allow to sit for 30 minutes to soften vegetables. Serve.

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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

IMG_0844Candied Fennel 

INGREDIENTS:

– 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

METHOD:

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

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 pint vanilla ice cream or gelato, softened at room temperature

– 2 teaspoons fennel seeds or ground fennel

– 1 recipe candied fennel

METHOD:

  1. If using fennel seeds, ground seeds to a smooth powder. Mix fennel powder into ice cream quickly (you don’t want it melted, just a stirrable consistency. Freeze ice cream until ready to serve.
  2. Serve ice cream topped with candied fennel. Goes great with rhubarb and strawberry crisp or other fruit crisps or dessert compotes

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp                       Serves 4-6 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces sliced rhubarb
  • 1 pound sliced ripe stawberries
  • 1/3-1/2 cup honey, depending upon desired level of sweetness
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Gluten free old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted grass fed butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. In a medium bowl, add oats, almond meal, coconut sugar, sea salt and pine nuts. Cut butter into small pieces and add to bowl. Using a fork or pastry blender, blend in             butter until well incorporated and mixture starts clumping together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, toss rhubarb, strawberries, honey, arrowroot starch, and vanilla until arrowroot is dissolved and rhubarb and strawberries are well coated. Pour into a medium casserole dish. Crumble topping evenly over the fruit mixture.
  4. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until topping is golden and rhubarb mixture is bubbly and thickened. Cool slightly before serving.

Please share with us…how do you like to prepare fennel?

1 thought on “Simply Fresh by Julie Wern–Week 3”

  1. Thank you Julie! I love seeing you weekly plan – struggled a bit mapping out what I was doing! Great ideas!!!

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