FENNEL – Foeniculum vulgare
Herb of the Year 1995
2 cups sugar, divided in half
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 cup butter, softened
1 Tablespoon orange juice
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
Place the fennel seed and one cup of the sugar in a blender and blend briefly to break up some of the fennel seed. Some whole seeds should remain. In a mixing bowl, combine the blended fennel-sugar with the butter and the remaining cup of plain sugar, and cream together thoroughly. Add the eggs, orange juice, water, and vanilla, and mix briefly. In a separate container, mix the baking powder and salt into the flour, then add the dry to the creamed ingredients and mix well. This will be a stiff dough. Divide the dough into four pieces, and make a flattened ball of each. On a floured surface, roll out each ball of dough until it is thin. Cut the dough into shapes with a cookie cutter and bake on a greased or nonstick cookie sheet at 350°F until light brown (about 8 minutes).
CREAMY FENNEL PUREE (Serves 8)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
9 cups coarsely chopped fennel stalk and bulb, feather leaves removed (about 1 large bulb)
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream]
2 Tablespoons Pernod ( is the brand name of a type of liqueur with a licorice flavor)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the chopped fennel and toss to coat with the butter. Cover the skillet and cook slowly until the fennel is quite tender, about 30 minutes. Process the fennel in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, adding some of the cream and Pernod to each batch. Stir in the fennel seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or warm gently in a saucepan just before serving.
RED SNAPPER GRILLED WITH FENNEL
1 1/2 to 2 pounds red snapper or any firm-fleshed white fish, cleaned but not scaled
Large bunch of fresh fennel, leaves and stalks
2 lemons, halved
Prepare a charcoal fire in the grill. Place a thick bed of fresh fennel on one side of a hinged fish grill. Place the fish on top and cover with another layer of fresh fennel. Close the grill. Set the grill over the hot coals and cook 20 to 25 minutes, turning the fish often. When the fish is done, place on a platter and serve accompanied with lemon halves and melted butter.
TOMATO FENNEL SALAD (serves 6 to 8)
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes
1 small fennel bulb
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
Zest of 1 small orange
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 Tablespoon cider or tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Core the tomatoes and cut into wedges. Remove the top of the fennel (save some fronds for garnish) and slice the bulb very thinly crosswise with a knife or on a mandoline. Toss the tomatoes and fennel in a bowl with the olive oil, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Garnish with 2 Tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, season to taste and serve.
FENNEL AND BLOOD ORANGE SALAD
4 ounces slivered almonds
Orange Vinaigrette (see below)
1 fennel bulb, 8 to 10 ounces trimmed
1 teaspoon fennel greens or parsley, finely chopped
3 blood oranges or navel oranges
2 large bunches (4 or 5 handfuls) watercress
12 to 18 small brine-cured or oil-cured black olives
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare orange vinaigrette while oven is heating. Toast almonds 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring often. Slice the bottom off the fennel bulb and remove the tough outer leaves. Then quarter the bulb, cut out the core, and slice the bulb as thinly as possible. Toss with 2 Tablespoons of the dressing and the fennel greens or parsley.
Using a very sharp knife, peel the oranges: remove a slice from each end and stand the oranges upright on the cutting board. Remove the skin from each, including the white pith, with several downward sawing strokes, working your way around the orange. Cut the peeled oranges into thin rounds and set them in a dish with 2 Tablespoons of the vinaigrette.
Pick the small branches off the large center stems of the watercress, and discard any yellow leaves. Wash, dry and set aside.
Put greens in a large bowl. Pour remaining vinaigrette over greens and layer with oranges, fennel, almonds and olives.
Grated peel and juice of 1 orange
1 shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Grate enough orange peel to make 1 teaspoon. Combine it with 4 Tablespoons orange juice, the shallot, vinegars, and salt. Whisk in the olive oil. Adjust the tartness with additional Champagne vinegar or balsamic vinegar if needed.