If you have never had fennel, it is a vegetable that has the texture and crunch of celery but the subtle sweetness and flavor of anise or licorice. In it's raw state, it's fabulous sliced and served with fresh orange slices in a salad but when cooked, the flavor is more delicate with a soft texture. It is popular in Mediterranean cuisine.
Here is a braised fennel recipe that I like from the October/November 1992 issue of Martha Stewart Living. It's simple and easy to make.
- 4 medium bulbs fennel
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 cup water
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Flat-leaf parsley leaves, as garnish
- Trim the tops of the fennel bulbs; cut bulbs in half lengthwise.
- Melt butter in a large iron skillet over medium heat. Add sugar and stir until melted. Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add fennel, cut side down, and cook until well browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to let the fennel burn.
- Turn over bulbs and add orange juice, water, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cover pan and cook until fennel is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 to 30 minutes. If the pan becomes dry during cooking, add a little more water. If any liquid is left at the end of the cooking time, continue to cook, uncovered, at medium heat until the liquid evaporates. Garnish with parsley leaves and serve immediately.