Fennel is a wonderfully versatile vegetable. It resembles a peeled onion bulb that someone has pressed between their hands so it's no longer round, with a green celery-like stalk and dill-ish fronds.
It has the cool crunch of celery with a strong note of licorice when you take a bite. It is lovely sliced thin and served with Parmesan in a salad, luscious and filling in a cheesy gratin, and absolutely delicious roasted.
Roasted, fennel caramelizes at the edges and loses its crunch. The licorice notes that were so discernible when the fennel was raw leave only a hint when roasted. Even people who run from anything licorice-ish (like my father) easily enjoy fennel when it is warm and roasted.
This simple dish of fennel roasted with olive oil and balsamic vinegar would be perfect with roast chicken, fish, or seafood.
- 2 fennel bulbs (thick base of stalk), stalks cut off, bulbs halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise in 1-inch thick wedges
- 2 tablespoons (or more) of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons (or more) balsamic vinegar
Toss fennel wedges with olive oil and balsamic:
Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Place the fennel wedges in a bowl and toss them with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, just enough to coat them. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, again just enough to coat.
Roast the fennel:
Line a roasting pan or baking dish Silpat or aluminum foil brushed with olive oil. Arrange the fennel wedges on the pan and roast them at 400°F (205°C) for 40 minutes or until the fennel wedges are cooked through and beginning to caramelize at the edges.