Did You Know? A member of the carrot family, fennel is an aromatic vegetable like celery and carrots, but it has a distinct anise flavor. It has a white bulb on one end with tough, green stalks growing out of it. Some people avoid fennel because of its strong licorice flavor in the raw. When cooked, fennel develops a mellow, delicate flavor. Look for white or very pale green fennel bulbs with bright green, firm stalks and fronds.
Excerpted from Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens, by Jennifer Schaertl, with permissions from Health Communications, Inc. (c) 2010. The following excerpt can be found on Pages 94 to 95.
Once the fennel is roasted, this dish is ready to plate, so your Crappy Little Kitchen will thank you. Just leave the roasted fennel is super low oven until you’re ready to serve. SERVES 4
• 3 Roma tomatoes
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, evenly divided
• Sea salt, as needed
• Black pepper, as needed
• 3 garlic cloves
• 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 4 baby fennel, halved
• 1 lemon, juiced
• 5 ounces goat cheese
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1/4 cup vegetable stock
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice the tomatoes in half and place them skin side down on a sheet tray. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1/4 cup of olive oil, and season them liberally with sea salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven for 15 minutes, turn the tray, and add the garlic cloves, roasting for another 5 minutes. Leave the oven on.
2. Pour the roasted tomatoes, garlic, and all the juices from the sheet tray into your blender, add the balsamic vinegar, and set the blender aside.
3. Place the fennel, cut side down on that same baking sheet and drizzle it with 1/4 cup of olive oil and the lemon juice. Don't add any salt or pepper yet. Put it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Place two slices of goat cheese on the white base of each fennel bulb, sprinkle the whole pan with thyme leaves and salt and pepper, and return the pan to the oven. Bake until the top of the goat cheese has begun to bubble and brown.
4. Pulse the contents of the blender and slowly drizzle in the stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Take four salad plates and place two fennel bulbs with goat cheese in the center of each. Drizzle the tomato vinaigrette in a circle around the cheese, and serve warm. It just doesn't have the same dramatic effect on a platter, so I always serve this dish on the individual salad plates.
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