In Fall 2014, I planted two fennel plants. They grew to be big, unwieldy monsters that I never harvested and just let go to seed. The seed heads were big and beautiful, and Frank could not resist shaking the seeds everywhere! I thought little of this, until this season, when we now have a fennel frenzy! It is coming up in the garden willy-nilly, and is even coming up in our yard in random places. I think it is coming up in the neighbors’ yards, too!
I’ve been harvesting bulbs that are fairly small (about three inches across) because if they get too big, the outside is woody.
So, how to use this bonanza? I remembered having a citrus and fennel salad at a Central Market cooking class, so I searched online for a recipe. The original recipe can be found here, and I have adapted it to use only one fennel bulb and one large orange to serve two people.
To cut up a fennel, first cut the stalks off even with the top of the bulb. These can be reserved for another use, such as a vegetable stock. You could also dry the fronds to use as you would any dried herb. Then, cut the bulb in half and remove the core. Be certain to wash it carefully; you may need to pull apart the two outside layers to remove all the dirt.
- One bulb of fennel, cored and thinly sliced
- One large orange, peeled, with pith removed, and thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 6 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the sliced oranges along with any juices that have accumulated.
- Add the sliced fennel.
- Chop about a teaspoon of the fennel fronds and add to the bowl.
- Toss together and serve.