Over the years I have become much more friendly with fennel. At first I couldn't get past that strong anise flavor, but then I learned how to prepare it in a way that not only makes it taste delicious, but essentially takes away that black licorice flavor I despise. While I'm not about to eat fennel raw, I do love it grilled, baked and more than anything, roasted. It becomes soft and sweet and is a perfect accompaniment to citrus in a light salad or side dish.
Caramelized fennel, tart pink grapefruit, toasted walnuts coated in fennel fronds and sea salt drizzled with pear vinaigrette.
Roasted Fennel & Pink Grapefruit Salad
2 tbl plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sized vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 fennel bulbs, cored, cut into large segments, fronds roughly chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup water
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 pink grapefruit, segmented
Heat 2 tbl of oil in a large saute pan until the oil is hot. Add the fennel chunks and onions and saute over medium-high heat until one side is brown and caramelized. Turn the fennel over and caramelize on the other side. Reduce the heat to medium and add the salt, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and water. Once the water is boiling, cover and steam for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking until all of the liquid has absorbed and the fennel and onions are soft.
In a small saute pan, add 1 tsp of oil and toast the walnuts. When done, toss with sea salt and 1 tbl of reserved fennel fronds.
Serve the fennel and onions with grapefruit segments, walnuts and pear vinaigrette.
D'Anjou Pear Vinaigrette
1 d'anjou pear, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
1 tbl dijon mustard
2 tbl maple syrup
1 tbl balsamic vinegar
1/4 black pepper
Pulse the pear in a food processor until creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt to taste.