Fennel Dee, Dee...
" I adore thinly shaved fennel tossed with a light olive oil vinaigrette, scattered on a fresh roasted garlic and white truffle pizza."... said by - absolutely no one at the Dahlonega Walmart... ever...
And I know that because I found Six - marked down, re-labeled, name changed and marked down again, and a Manager's Special sticker attached - fennel bulbs at my local meg-lo-maniacal mart for a whopping 2 bucks... total!
Call me crazy - but that's like finding out your cat makes diamond encrusted, solid gold um.. surprises in the litter box.
During my last foray down towards points more cosmopolitan, in places with produce enhancing lighting and pressed green aprons, they were well over $3.00 per bulb!
So.. yeah... I was stoked!
and I bought 12.
Granted - Wally's isn't exactly what you'd call a curb market, not by a long shot.
But it was just off the main road.... and I did have to drive there....
... and did I mention it was 12?
Needless to say - there's going to be some "fenneling" to do here.
As I sat with my dozen little friends nestled around me, I thought about my good fortune.. and why was it that I was able to reap such a bounty.
~ Did the $4 price tag scare some people away? ... probably
~ Granted, it's not what you'd call common, like say a tomato, but it been around a long time. And, I mean a long time - it's all bound up in Greek and Roman mythology even.
~ Maybe it's just that people don't really know what they can do with it. Just the other day I had someone (a full-sized living adult) ask me what eggplant tasted like...
The Basics -
Fennel is a very aromatic and flavorful herb. The entirety of the plant - roots, bulbous base, stalks, leaves, dried flowers and seeds, are all edible and used in a variety of situations. It is similar in flavor to anise (with a light licorice note), but more on the citrusy, sweeter side.
Roots - extracts from the roots were once used to treat glaucomaYou might as well get comfy... I'll be doing a run of fennel recipes over the next week or so.
Bulb / Stalks - can be substituted anywhere you'd normally use celery. You can serve it raw, braise it, roast and grill it.
Leaves - As an addition to a fresh salad, or saute with fish
Dried Flowers (commonly referred to as Fennel Pollen) - sauces, dry rubs, marinades
Seeds - Add it to soups, stews, breads, and as a surprise kicker to your favorite spaghetti sauce.
Meatier Meat Sauce with Fennel
Generally speaking, I like my bolognese style sauces more meat than sauce, so some of you might find it a bit thick for your liking. You can always thin it down a bit with chicken or beef stock to get to something you're happier with.
And, yes I've used breakfast sausage. Taking into consideration that bulk Italian sausage runs around $3 a pound - and breakfast sausage is a buck, why not save a bit on the costs where it really isnt going to make much of a difference.
1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
1 Pound Bulk Breakfast Sausage
2 Cloves Garlic - Minced
1 Bulb Fennel - Rough Chopped
1 Medium Onion - Chopped
2 Ribs Celery - Minced
1 Red Sweet Pepper - Julienne
1 - 12 Ounce Can Tomato Sauce
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Cups Red Wine
2 Cloves - Crushed
1 Bay Leaf
1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
On medium high heat, brown the sausage and ground beef together
Drain and reserve 1/2 of the grease
Add the reserved fat back to the pot and add the fennel, onions, garlic, and celery
Saute until the onions are translucent
Add the peppers, red pepper, clove, and bay leaf - saute until the cloves are aromatic ( about 2 minutes)
Add the sauce, paste and red wine - stir well to mix
Add the meat mixture back to the pot and stir it all together
Taste and adjust for salt and seasonings
Cover the pot and reduce to low
Simmer for 45 minutes on low - Remember to check the pot occasionally , skim off the excess grease and give it a good stir
Cook up your favorite pasta in super salty water and serve it up!
|I know the general thought these days is to mix the pasta and sauce together... |
but I've always been a sauce on top kinda guy.