It's midway through summer, and I have been getting my crop share for a few weeks now. Overall, I have been pretty happy with the selection that I have been getting in my boxes. When you don't personally pick out your produce, you are left with the creative task of figuring out what to do with vegetables that you might not typically work with. There have been all sorts of tasty tidbits included in my share: rainbow chard, kale, cucumbers, assorted lettuces, beets, kohlrabi, snap peas, turnips, and so much garlic. For as much as I love garlic, I found myself with more than I knew what to do with. Some of it made its way into jars to infuse olive oil with its delicious flavor.
For me, fennel was the vegetable that I had little to no experience working with. Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, is a plant that we learned about in our Botanical Medicine 2 class this trimester. The seeds are what typically used in supplementation. They have volatile oils, which have a lovely licorice-like flavor, are known for their carminative properties, or the ability to relax the smooth muscles of the intestines. The plant also contains phytoestrogens and had been studied as a means of providing symptom relief in menopausal women. This is all fine and good, but I was initially at a loss as to what I wanted to do with it. So far, the winning dish involved baking it with olive oil and parmesan cheese.
The recipe is super simple, all you need is:
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 fennel bulbs, cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices, fronds reserved
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375° F
Using a shallow glass baking dish, lightly coat the fennel in oil and arrange so that it lays flat on the bottom. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and the Parmesan over the top. Then bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top begins to brown, this will take about 45 minutes. If you have fennel fronds, these can be chopped and sprinkled over the top when you are done. Enjoy!
I feel like this method of cooking lends itself well to the preparation of many different vegetables. I will have to try it again with my garlic olive oil.