Spring is here – finally! I feel like a bear waking up from hibernation. Look! my last post was in October right before not-so-cold winter. And now while everything is blooming I am awake as well. Altough my wife would argue with me being a gorilla rather than a grizzly bear but that’s for another post.
While observing what’s new with the world I couldn’t miss all the new produce filling up the shelves in the stores. Enjoying the colors and the smells of all the goodies in the market, one booth made me actually stop a bit longer than others. I couldn’t hold myself and had to grab a bulb and inhale the deep aromatic scent of a Fennel. This large bulb had the leaves on which look very similar to dill. Inhaled again… smell of the Mediterranean!
In ancient Greece Fennel was called Marathon which was the name of the town Marathon; same Marathon from the famous battle of Marathon where a Greek soldier was sent, running, to Athens announcing the defeat of Persians in the battle. Fennel field was the place of the battle. Ancient Greeks believed that Fennels are good for protection and good luck. Romans ate fennel to control obesity. In medieval times fennel was used to keep away the ghosts and evil spirits.
The crisp fennel can be sauteed, stewed, braised, grilled, roasted or eaten raw. For a quick treat you can cut a fennel bulb in rings, add juice of a fresh lemon, extra virgin olive oil, rock salt and black pepper; toss it altogeter and serve it chilled. It will make a great refreshing apetizer.
Here is a recipe for roasted fennels; they are great as side dish for fish or a light meal for hot summer days.
Herb Roasted Fennel Bulbs
- 2 large Fennel bulbs
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1-2 garlic, minced
- 1-2 red hot chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- coarse salt
- A dash of freshly grated black pepper
1 Cut fennels in half. Remove the outer leaves and cut the stems.
2 Preheat oven to 350° Place fennels on baking tray, cut side up. Spread olive oil evenly all over the fennels. Add garlic, chillies, thyme, salt and pepper.
3 Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the fennels.
TIP: Sprinkle some water over the fennels during cooking in order to keep them moist; every 10 minutes will be fine.
NOTE: You can add any fresh herb you like instead of or together with thyme such as oregano, sage etc…
Try this dish with a very well chilled crisp Rose wine; if Rose is not your cup of wine then a nice Chenin Blanc will do that as well.