Fennel is one of those ingredients that can be tricky. But it is also a great example of how important your membership is to our farmers.
David Yoder in Homerville has been growing fennel for us for years. It's such a unique vegetable that if it weren't for your commitment as a member that he would not grow it otherwise. There is no other market for fennel in large quantities. Knowing that he has a home for it at Fresh Fork at a fair price gives him the chance to grow something unique.
I know that it is an usual ingredient and so Chef Derek at Wholesome Valley summoned some of his fine dining experience (as a chef at Nemacolin Woodlands in PA) and put together some ideas for us.
Fennel will last quite a long time in the refrigerator. Cut the fronds off the top and store those separately. The fronds can be used like any other fresh herb and used to season a dressing, toss in a creamy potato salad, or even make a pesto.
The bulb will store in a plastic bag or container for weeks. Don't use this as an excuse though to push off on enjoying the fennel.
What was your go to a the resort? I knew Derek and I had talked about fennel before and a specific side dish they made at the steakhouse at the resort.
Derek told me it was quite simple. They would first wash the fennel thoroughly as it likes to collect sand between the layers of the bulb. Cut the fennel into spears or long strips (expect it to fall apart some) and toss with a little bit of oil and salt. Place on a sheet tray and roast for about 30 minutes at 350 until slightly tender and golden.
The fennel pairs well with leeks too, so if you have leek or even onion, include that in your roasting step then add to the baking dish below as well.
Meanwhile, take about a cup of cream and a half cup of whole milk. Whisk that together with some minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
Place the roasted fennel in a gratin dish (for individual servings) or a shallow baking pan. Pour the cream over the fennel and top with a grated hard cheese. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until tender.
Tomato Fennel Chilled Gazpacho
-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
-1 Large Onion, chopped
-1 Head Fennel, core removed, chopped
-3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
-1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
-3 Cups Water
-8 to 10 large tomatoes, cored, chopped
-2 cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed, chopped
-10 Fresh Basil Leaves
-2 Tbsp Sugar or Honey
-1 tsp Dry Oregano
-1/2 tsp Ground Coriander,
-1/2 tsp fennel seed
-1/2 Lemon, juiced
-2 Tbsp Himalayan Salt
-2 tsp Black Pepper
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat
- Add onion, fennel, and garlic. Saute until soft and lightly caramelized
- Deglaze pan with balsamic Vinegar
- Add remaining ingredients to pot and stir to combine
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until all vegetables are soft
- Working in batches, process through a high speed blender or food mill to get a smooth consistency.
- Place soup in refrigerator to chill completely. This can also be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to a week.
- Optional: garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, diced cucumber, and chopped fresh herbs.