Caramelizing fennel

fennel

You know you’re a spoiled, urban eater when you’re just sick to death of eating fennel in all the usual ways. Shaved with oranges in a walnut vinaigrette – ho hum. Braised with cumin seed – yawn. So, what’s left when you get to this point? Turns out caramelizing makes fennel all fresh and new again!

Here’s how I made it:

1. Slice the fennel into long, thin strips. Melt enough butter with an equal amount of vegetable oil to just cover the bottom of a skillet. Add the fennel and season with salt and pepper; stir in a minced clove of garlic and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried thyme leaves.
2. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until softened. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high.
3. Sprinkle over a little sugar (about 1/2 tsp/2 mL for a large fennel bulb) and cook, stirring, until golden. Splash in a couple of tablespoons of dry sherry and stir to scrape up the brown bits. Add a teaspoon of cider vinegar and taste; adjust the cider vinegar and salt and pepper as needed.

I served my caramelized fennel as part of a vegetarian plate but it would be great with pan-seared Alaskan cod or slathered over a white pizza, too.

What’s your favourite way to eat fennel?

13 Responses to Caramelizing fennel

  1. Shaslam says:

    Again, you’ve hit a family favourite–when all 4 kids eat it you know you have a winner. We eat as much raw as cooked. Balsamic vinegar is our weapon of choice when raw and it gets added to any roasts and grilled on the BBQ. My favourite is shaved on top of sliced tomatoes with parmesan curls, a little evoo, white balsamic and lots of cracked black pepper on top–it makes a nice starter if you’re doing more than one course. I also add it to quinoa for a nice chunchy sidedish–slightly sauteed or raw.

  2. Peter says:

    Fennel? I once avoided it and now I love it. I recently posted a fish marinated in a pesto that included fennel, grilled with Halloumi cheese and tossed in with potatoes to make a gooey, cheezy gratin.

  3. Barb says:

    I use it so seldom that I love it prepared any way.

  4. Carrie says:

    I love it in a raw slaw with toasted pine nuts and lemon juice dressing. Roasted with some olive oil and parmesan cheese is also good.
    The kids like it raw, as a snack. They love the licorice flavour.
    I also add it to marinara sauce, or as filler for fish “en papillotte”. It’s a veggie fave in our home.

  5. I don’t eat fennel much but caramelized vegetables are always a hit!

    Guess I’ve got a long way to go before I’m a spoiled urban eater. (Chocolate doesn’t count!)

  6. Diva says:

    Funny, I love fennel but don’t use it very often. While I normally enjoy it raw, you’ve got me hankering for this lovely caramelized version. It sounds exquisite, Dana!

  7. Rosa says:

    That sounds delicious! I also like to make a similar dish with my fennel…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  8. Terry says:

    I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ve only ever eaten fennel raw. My in-laws turned me onto it (they snack on it raw), otherwise I might never had known it. I will definitely put this version (and all the others that were mentioned) on my list of “to try”. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Cheryl says:

    Every time I buy some fennel to cook with, I usually end up nibbling more than half the bulb raw. I just love it by it own crunchy self!

  10. danamccauley says:

    Wow – looks like there are a lot of fennel lovers who read my blog! Good to see. It’s a generally underused veggie I think.

  11. dinnerwithjulie says:

    I’m not a huge fan.. I do like it in small amounts thinly shaved into slaw… might try caramelizing it though! Caramelizing anything makes it better!

  12. I love fennel and use it in so many different ways. I like it thinly shaved in salads, caramelised in the oven and simmered gently so it’s incredibly tender and used in risottos.

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