Roasted fennel

I have no idea why I planted so much fennel. We don’t much care for it in salad, and although my daughter loves chomping on the seeds, I’m not going to let it go to seed, because it is a noxious weed in California. So why did I do it? There’s all the fennel, waving in the breeze (hi fennel!) that I have to do something with.

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Last afternoon I pulled out one entire plant, mostly to allow the mint hiding under the fronds to get some some sun. Cut out the leaves and the roots, and this is what I was left with: 3 bulbs.

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Don’t they look like three buddies? The short and stout one, the tall and skinny one, and the one right in the middle? Slice them up an eighth of an inch thick, and you end up with this:

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I love how pretty the insides are — the symmetrical petal shapes that emanate out of the center. I focused on one particularly pretty slice below:

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This is one of those recipes where I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until I had done it. I knew baking in an oven was involved, salt and olive oil too. So I started with that. Rub a few teaspoons of XVOO all over them with your fingers. Sprinkle with some salt to taste. Then, squirt a few squirts of lemon around. Now for juicy vegetables roasted in this way where one expects some browning, some crunch on top is desirable. I went with cracked coriander seeds (just pulverized a bit, not ground up completely); and, scanning the pantry shelves, I saw almond meal, so I used that as well. A teaspoon of cracked coriander sprinkled on top, and a teaspoon of almond meal spread around. This is what I ended up with.

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Into the oven it goes. Set to bake at 425 F, for 20 minutes. This is what comes out:

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In retrospect, I could have gone higher on the oven temperature, perhaps 450 F next time?

It made a very nice vegetable side for two. It would also be great on pizza or focaccia. The fennel was still a little sweet and crunchy on top. I loved the lemon but it does make it a little intense, so if one prefers less intensity in flavor one could leave it out.

Oh — and this recipe would be great with belgian endives — a similarly juicy and crunchy vegetable.

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