Fennel is one of my all-time favorite vegetables. It’s delicious raw in salads, like this fennel and apple slaw. It’s also incredible when roasted. It’s a little sweet with the texture of cooked celery. Roasting brings out a nutty flavor along with the subtle anise flavor fennel is known for.
This easy roasted fennel side dish takes only a few minutes to prepare. It’s one of those recipes to bring out when you don’t have a lot of time, but you still want to get a healthy, home cooked meal on the table. I usually make roasted fennel when I’m cooking a chicken. The carrots, onion, celery, potatoes and fennel all go in the bottom of the roasting pan and I cook the chicken on top. Our family (and guests) all look forward to “roasted chicken day” because it’s such a delicious meal.
When I’m not roasting a chicken, I use this recipe to roast fennel on its own. I like how the large quarters look on the plate (plus it’s less work). A simple toss in good olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper and you are done. When you use good ingredients, they don’t need a lot of preparation to taste amazing.
Preheat oven to 400° F/ 190° C
Remove the fennel stems and any damaged outer stalks. Quarter each fennel bulb lengthwise, keeping the core intact. Drizzle the fennel with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat.
Arrange the fennel on a baking sheet and cook in the oven, turning once, until lightly brown and crisp on the edges, 45 minutes to an hour.
Taste for seasoning and top with grated Parmesan cheese (optional).
This type of creamy soup recipe is perfect when it’s getting cold outside, but for us in Miami, that doesn’t happen very often. Here it is October and you would think it was the middle of summer. No changing leaves, no boots, no harvest festivals. We are still in flip flops and having swim parties. Still, food moves with the seasons and I’m in the mood for Fall. Warm and comforting, this creamy potato and fennel soup is simple to make, and delicious.
Cream of (insert vegetable here) recipes remind me of childhood, when I would pour over my mother’s 1960’s Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The thing was well worn, with binder pages hanging out the side. Inside, you could make a creamy soup out of any vegetable if you had a blender, some chicken stock and cream.
My version is a little less fattening than most, using just a touch of cream and olive oil. The potatoes thicken the soup, so there is no need for flour or corn starch. Try to use a low starch red or yellow potato for this recipe.
Why does this matter? Waxy potatoes like these are creamier when you cook them, with a nutty, buttery flavor that will enhance the soup. Starchy white potatoes have a milder flavor and grainier texture that is better served mashed.
Some other creamy Fall veggie soups you may want to try:
In a large pot, sauté onions in olive oil or butter over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, celery and fennel. Cook for 2 minutes more. Add potatoes and chicken stock. Cover and cook over low heat until everything is very tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in cream, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using an immersion blender, pulse soup until completely smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender, working in batches until the soup in smooth. Taste for seasoning and serve hot garnished with fennel fronds.
Once a month we make a pilgrimage to Proper Sausages, Miami’s premier artisan sausage maker and butcher shop. Their handmade sausages are far from typical, with ingredients like New Zealand lamb, cognac and chanterelles. I usually just stock up on my favorite sausages, but this time I spotted some amazing Berkshire pork rib chops. These bone-in beauties were over an inch thick and beautifully marbled. Berkshire pork comes from a heritage breed of English black pig (from Berkshire, of course). Incredibly juicy and flavorful, this pork is part of the reason those Proper Sausages are so good.
Every now and then I splurge on some expensive, but hard to find grocery items. I would rather buy something a little pricey in the store and cook it up myself then go out and spend a fortune at a restaurant. We put on a movie, get cozy on the couch with the baby and enjoy a luxurious meal. Sure, it’s nice to get dressed up and go out, but when you have to schedule a sitter and have an early curfew; it makes going out a bit of a hassle.
Besides the sausages I keep on hand in the freezer, I usually don’t cook pork, mainly because it’s impossible to find organic, farm-raised pork in the supermarket. Because of the exceptional quality, I gave these chops a try, pairing them with creamy goat cheese polenta, grilled fennel and a sautéed apple. I was careful not to overcook them, browning them in a sauté pan before finishing them off in the oven. They came out perfectly juicy and incredibly flavorful — truly the best pork chop my husband and I have tasted.
These are cooked very simply, letting the quality of the meat stand out.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F., and allow pork chops to come to room temperature. Pat dry and generously season the chops on all sides with smoked salt and pepper. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in an oven proof pan large enough to fit both chops. Add the chops to the pan and cook about 2 minutes on each side until brown. Place the pan with the chops in the oven for about 10 minutes until cooked through. Remove the chops from the pan and cover to keep warm.
You can use the pan drippings to make a sauce if you like (I didn't, but saved them for another meal). Just add about half a teaspoon of flour to the pan and your liquid of choice. This could be ½ a cup of cider, wine or stock. Stir in some seasonings like orange zest or peppercorns if you like. Once thickened and bubbly, season with salt and pepper for a delicious sauce.
Serving Size: 4
In a heavy saucepan, bring water, milk, and salt to a boil. Slowly add the polenta while stirring. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent the polenta from sticking to the bottom or clumping. When the polenta is thick and creamy, remove from heat. Stir in butter, pepper and crumbled goat cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Taste for seasoning and serve.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Trim and clean fennel and cut into thick slices or quarters. Arrange on a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat with your hands. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until the fennel is cooked and slightly brown.
Serving Size: 2
Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium-high heat until bubbly. Season apples with salt. Cover and cook on the cut side only until nicely browned. This will take about 5 minutes.
Sauteed apple recipe Inspired by Real Simple magazine’s pork chops with sauteed Granny Smith apples
I started this blog to exercise (or it is exorcise?) my creative muscles. Creating is what I do; whether I’m cooking, painting, writing or photographing. Now that I have it started, it’s crazy overwhelming! There is so much to set up, optimize, and install…certainly not an easy task for someone with an eight month old baby who just learned the joys of climbing up on things. Having time to actually cook and write up a recipe on a daily basis is daunting.
But let’s not look at the big picture. SMALL steps. In a direction. Any direction. Will get you somewhere.
Here’s my small step in the form of a fennel and apple slaw recipe. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables and often overlooked. It’s crunchy and slightly sweet with a sophisticated anise taste. This recipe makes a great salad too; if you use larger slices. I served the slaw with some amazing and totally exciting (to me) fried whole smelts and buttery dill potatoes.
Yield: Serves 4
Julienne your fennel and apple on a mandolin and mix together in a bowl. Wisk together the remaining ingredients and toss salad to coat. Garnish with additional fennel fronds for color.