Steamed fennel and Caramelized fennel

(Jonathan Levitt for The Boston Globe)
By Jonathan Levitt
Globe Correspondent / April 22, 2009

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • E-mail|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

Crisp and licorice-y fennel is eaten raw, roasted, or used to flavor a broth. Very thinly sliced in a salad, fennel is bright and refreshing - like celery but with an edgier flavor. In a broth, its sweet anise taste can bring out the best in fish or chicken. The layered bulb is also good roasted, braised, or steamed, as the star of its own dish. For the lightest and cleanest side dish, steam quarters of fennel, and then toss the soft bulbs with fruity olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (pictured below). For another level of flavor, cook slices of fennel in a hot skillet until they wilt and turn golden. Markets are lean in early spring, but fennel is available year round, and the quality is always good. A sure thing for uncertain times.

1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 large bulbs fresh fennel
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1. In a large bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper.

2. Trim the fennel bulbs. Peel away the coarse outer leaves to expose the white hearts. Halve the bulbs lengthwise through the cores, and cut each half into 4 equal wedges. Reserve a few frilly fronds from the green tops of the bulbs. Fit a large saucepan with a steamer basket and several inches of water. Bring to a boil, add the fennel, and cover the pan. Steam for 8 minutes or until fennel is tender but not quite limp.

3. Toss the fennel with the olive oil mixture, reserved fennel fronds, salt, and pepper.

Serves 4

2 large bulbs fresh fennel
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Trim the fennel bulbs. Peel away the coarse outer leaves to expose the white hearts. Halve the bulbs lengthwise. Cut out the cores, and cut the hearts into thin slices.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, and when it is hot, add the sliced fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the fennel is golden brown and tender. Season with salt and pepper.