How to Include Fresh Fennel in Your Winter Line-Up
Fennel is one of those speciality produce items that comes in handy this season (especially when it’s plentiful in supplies like it is now!).
When prepared correctly, fennel is one of those elegant vegetables that can take your dishes from good to great. When served raw, fennel delivers a super fresh, crunchy, anise flavor to salads, sandwiches, and slaws. I recommend using a mandolin to shave it very thinly, and pairing it with complimentary flavors such as apples, pears, squash, and tomatoes.
Try shaved fennel in a classic Waldorf salad for an extra boost of texture and flavor. Fennel also loves to be roasted and fried. Braised fennel with dry white wine and plenty of garlic is a lovely side dish for roasted meats. Due to its natural high sugar content, fennel becomes caramelized and almost jammy when roasted.
And don’t forget about the fennel fronds! These glorious greens can be used on their own as a super elegant garnish, or worked into any dish that celebrates fresh greens. The only real trick to using fennel is to make sure to cut away the tough, woody core, and dispose of any dried out layers before using it.
This salad showcases fennel in two preparations which pair beautifully with the pears. Sweet, salty, and crunchy; who could start a meal in a better way?
Roasted Fennel and Pear Salad with Balsamic-Pear Dressing
2 firm but ripe pears, halved, cored
1 medium fennel bulb (about 8 ounces), cored, quartered, fronds reserved
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 cups (packed) mixed baby greens
4 oz Manchego cheese
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 400 °F. Arrange pears, cut side up, in a baking dish; add fennel. Drizzle olive oil and chicken broth over pears and fennel. Roast 10 minutes.
Turn pears and fennel over and roast until pears are just tender, about 5 minutes longer. Using slotted spoon, transfer pears to plate. Continue roasting fennel until tender, about 15 minutes longer.
Transfer fennel to plate with pears, reserving any cooking liquid.
Thinly slice fennel and 2 pear halves lengthwise. Cool completely.
Peel remaining 2 pear halves. Transfer peeled pears to processor.
Add reserved cooking liquid and vinegar to processor and blend until very smooth. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
Divide greens among 4 plates. Top with fennel and pear slices.
Drizzle some dressing over each salad, and top with reserved fennel fronds, grated Manchego cheese, and pumpkin seeds.
About the Chef
Stephanie Goldfarb is a Chicago-based chef and national food television personality specializing in seasonal, globally-inspired cuisine. Recognized as the winner of Food Network’s America’s Best Cook competition, and a celebrity chef on Kitchen Inferno and NBC’s Food Fighters, Goldfarb delivers unique and relatable culinary experiences to discriminating and casual diners alike. As the owner of the successful Seven Species Supper Club & Catering, she enjoys the challenge of building brand new menus each month that inspire both repeat clients and newcomers, and seeks opportunities to utilize new ingredients, techniques, and approaches in accessible ways.