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Saturday, September 01, 2012

Five Years Ago On Saturday Beefcake: It was Fennel

Fennel, of course, is the gayest of vegetables, which is why it is often celebrated here. It is, in Italian, used to describe homosexual men. One reason given for that nomenclature is that the plant is self-pollinating. It is more or less perennial these days, and since this weekend is the unofficial end of Summer, it might be fitting to celebrate yet again our friend the fennel for its year round freshness. That's as good a reason as any.

From The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition:


Baking: First, braise the fennel for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish and add just one half cup of the cooking liquid. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees until just tender and beginning to brown. If desired, uncover toward the end to allow any excess liquid to evaporate, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese, and brown under the broiler before serving. Cooking time: about one hour.

Braising: Braise fennel in broth, tomato sauce, vermouth or sherry (diluted 1-to-1 with water); add lemon zest, garlic, or onion for extra flavor. Braised fennel is delicious hot, warm, or chilled. Place fennel slices, or halved or quartered small fennel bulbs, in a sauce pan and add just enough boiling liquid to barely cover the vegetable. Simmer uncovered, turning occasionally, until the fennel is tender, adding more liquid if necessary. Cooking time: 25 to 40 minutes.

Sauteing: Cut fennel into slivers and heat in a small amount of stock, tossing and stirring it frequently. For extra flavor, cook chopped onion and garlic along with fennel. A sprinkling of lemon juice and zest makes a nice finishing touch. Cooking time: 10 to 15 minutes.

Steaming: Fennel steamed until crisp-tender can be covered with your favorite sauce or marinated in a vinaigrette, chilled, and served as a salad. To steam it, place whole or halved bulbs in a vegetable steamer and cook over boiling water until just tender. Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes.

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