For a long time I wanted to buy fresh fennel at the store because it looked so nice and smelled so good. But heck, I didn’t know what to do with it. Then one day awhile back I was gazing dumbly at a beautiful, haphazard fennel pile at the farmer’s market and my mouth started watering like a hungry beagle. I bought 3 and scurried home to make fennel soup, which sounds much fancier than it is. I just simmered veggie broth with all the fennel bulbs diced up, some of the fronds, a little green onion, a rather old potato, salt and pepper. And I ate the whole pot.
Since then I’ve gotten a little more experienced with fennel. It’s delicious raw in a salad, and if you jack that soup up with lots more taters and some carrots and maybe pearl onions you can make something really hearty and stewlike.
But here’s my favorite: slow sautéed fennel. Which really means I forgot them in the sauté pan for a few extra minutes. Boy did it work though. Buttery, savory, just slightly sweet. And it turns out fennel is full of vitamins C and B6, folate and potassium. And even with the olive oil, it’s something like 40 calories for a whole bulb. And your kitchen will smell wonderful!
Trim off the longest part of the fronds, leaving a few inches of stem, and then cut each bulb in half so each side has some stem. Steam for 3 or 4 minutes. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a sauté pan, then place the fennel halves cut side down for 3-4 minutes over medium high heat. Lower to medium and cook 10 or so more minutes until they’re browned. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.