Saturday, January 23, 2010

Spur-of-the-Moment Roasted Fennel - Crazy Good!

Inspired by the Saturday morning Food Network shows and a well-stocked refrigerator, I decided today was the day to roast some fennel for the first time.

I'm one of those people who actually likes fennel, especially in salads with sliced oranges and a light vinaigrette. The two flavors have a similar note on my palate and together they sing perfect harmony.

Of course, life is never as simple as "this won't take long, I have some fresh fennel in the fridge right now, let's do it!"

I opened the refrigerator only to discover a package of fish had leaked all over a glass shelf.

Ooooookaaaaay . . . grab some paper towels and the bleach-water spray bottle. One paper towel left on roll, of course! (I can't pretend I don't know how that happens?)

Downstairs for paper towels, oh, and while I'm here, the Kleenex needs replacing in the den . . . and the master bath. Of course, I know how that happens too. 

There they are! Not the paper towels, of course. I haven't even gotten that far into the room by then. There are the forgotten clothes in the washer and dryer.

Dump the clothes from the dryer onto the table in the bar. (Even as I do that, I know it will come back to bite me on the butt later.) Sigh. For now though, transfer the washer load to the dryer.

Stay focused.

Grab armloads of paper products and head back upstairs -- just two short flights -- and change out the Kleenex boxes in the master bath. Back down one flight to the kitchen and change out the Kleenex boxes in the den and the paper towels in the kitchen.

Finally, fish-juicy containers removed from the refrigerator. Shelf cleaned -- with too many paper towels. Containers cleaned -- more paper towels. Fish juice rings cleaned on counter. No lingering fish odor or contamination anywhere. Order restored.

Back to the fennel roasting project.

Cutting board, check. Knives -- no knives! Why? Why? Why? Gather clean knives from the dish rack. In the interest of safety, I recall, the whole batch of knives should hit a few licks to sharpen them before slicing anything else. ALL knives now steeled for duty.

Finally, slice fennel, toss with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt . . . head slap. Oven not preheated!

Turn on oven to 400 degrees and wait -- Viking always slow to heat. Head slap again. (Red mark beginning to appear on forehead!)  Small oven will heat much faster than large oven.

Turn off big oven. Turn on small oven. Move fennel to smaller baking sheet -- large one won't fit in small oven.

Shorter wait. Shove pan of fennel into oven and wait. House begins to smell h-e-a-v-e-n-l-y.

Remove fennel and pounce on the very hot, very crispy, blackened . Mmmmmmmmm. Oooooooo. Ahhhhhhhh. Better than French Fries!

Snap! Come to my senses and remember to take a picture before the whole pan of fennel is devoured.

Big head slap! I shouldn't have waited so long to try roasted fennel.

It is so crazy good! Must get more fennel NOW!

Well, right after I meet the neighbors for pizza. There's always time for pizza!

I'll get back to the fennel. Note to self -- buy more fennel.

All in a day's work.

Hmmmmm . . . roasted fennel on pizza . . .

1 or more bulbs of fresh fennel
olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice green stalks off top of fennel bulb. Slice fennel bulb in half lengthwise. Remove core by making triangular notch around it. Cut each half lengthwise into quarters. Place on baking sheet; toss with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast until nicely browned and crispy on edges. Eat immediately or serve with other food - if you can wait.

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