Friday, October 22, 2010

Braised Fennel with Grapes and Oranges

From what I gather, fennel is not necessarily everyone's favorite veggie. I think it's one of those things like cilantro; you either love it or hate it. I love all things fennel (and anise)-related from black licorice to sambuca and everywhere in between.

Botanically, fennel and anise are two different plants in the same family that have similar flavor characteristics. From what I understand, anise is used mostly for its seed, while fennel is used bulb, stalk and all as a vegetable.

This was part of the meal I posted previously, so I thought I might as well put up the recipe.

Also, can anyone tell me what this means?    <3

I keep seeing it, and I can't tell whether it's a face or a booty or what.

Serves 4 as a side dish:
2 fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons olive oil (or whatever you like to saute with)
1 cup veggie broth
1 cup grapes
1 organic orange, sliced thin with skin on (save the ends for juicing over the top at the end)
salt and pepper to taste (if your veggie broth is salted, you probably won't need to add much salt)

Cut the fennel stalks from the bulbs; save the frondy parts for garnish and save the stalks to use later for soup stock or whatever. Slice the bulbs into 1/2-inch slices lengthwise.

In a large fry pan, saute the fennel slices in a single layer over med-high heat for 1-2 minutes, when the fennel starts to brown a little, turn the fennel over and saute the other side for another 1 - 2 minutes, tossing in the grapes and orange slices at the same time you turn the fennel.

Reduce heat to medium - low, add salt and pepper to taste and pour in the veggie broth. Cover pan and allow it to cook gently until fennel is tender ~ 6-8 minutes. Garnish with fennel fronds and a squeeze of fresh orange.

The cooked fennel has a mild, sweet flavor and a creamy texture.


  1. I CAN TELL YOU!!!! <3 means love or heart. if you put the sign together it forms a sideways heart.FINALLY i know something trendy:)lol. fennel is something i have been meaning to try for a LONG time. it looks good, but im not really a fan of we'll see...

    lol i just saw what your guess was of <3, ha ha a booty, i see it!

  2. I'm also laughing - I guess the sideways heart really isn't so obvious. Back when I was in school (before cell phones texting) we used to do those symbols on our graphing calculators. Now, they're everywhere.

    I have tried fennel a few times and I like it much better in a restaurant than when I prepare it. I'll have to take your tips and give it another whirl. Thank you for the thorough recipe; that really does help.

  3. Don't listen to Michelle or Jessica! <3 is a big smooch!

    Hey! Look! Fennel! Grapes! Oranges! Would it kill you to make some Boca Burgers and Fries????

  4. Fennel (and anise) is one of the few foods that make me feel sick when I smell or taste it, usually by accident. BUT, when fennel is baked and sauced, it seems to lose it's "offensive" flavor and taste good. Have you noticed that? :D

  5. haha its a heart! I can see how you saw a booty though haha

    I love fennel and I never really thought about it but it makes sense that star anise and fennel are related. I am one of the few people that enjoys eating black licorice, so fennel was an easy hit for me. I never cooked fennel with sounds like a really interesting, unique dish!

  6. Michelle,

    Thanks for the info...I may have to go with Shen's idea though about the smoochie

    Cooked fennel is much milder than anise seed, so maybe you'll like it...but maybe not...let me know someday, will you?


    Yeah, I can see the heart shape, but it is a little bit of a stretch. I see you've all moved on with the old calculator tricks. When I was in "school" we used to type in 58008, and when you held it upside down, it looked like "BOOBS"...yeah, I know, we were total dorks!


    I think I like your interpretation on the <3 the best1 It looks more like a smooch (or a booty) to me than a heart...but that's just dorky old me

    As for the boca burgers: LOL...don't get the wrong idea, we eat plenty of veg burger around here...I'll see what I can do beer battered onion rings and avocado chips sound?


    I remember you commenting before that raw fennel wasn't a flavor you liked...and while I like fennel raw too, you're right, it totally mellows out when cooked and takes on a softer dimension. :)


    Finally, a fellow licorice lover!
    And just between you and me...and I'm obviously out of the loop...but I kind of like the booty theory best. I think fennel goes pretty well with fruit.

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  8. LOL, I don't have much to add to the comments you've already gotten, except to say I've never cooked fennel but since I love anise and black licorice, I'll really have to try it. Boy are you right that the black licorice flavor is a love it or hate it one! I've never had anyone shrug and say, "It's okay, I can take it or leave it."

    My Italian great-aunt used to make "anici," (not sure if I spelled that right, she pronounced it "an-EEE-chee") which were these pillow-shaped, buttery-flavored bread-like things (a bit like biscotti, texture-wise) with anise seed in them. I thought they smelled wonderful (sorry, Andrea!), and my mom (who is WILD about black licorice) and I loved them. I wish I had her recipe to veganize! I must see if I can find one (maybe Bryanna Grogan has one!)

    The whole <3 emoticon conversation cracked me up! I've always understood it to be a heart, and I thought a smooch was more like :-x though frankly that looks more like "I just sucked a lemon" to me. :-) But your "booty" interpretation is my favorite! Maybe ":-x my <3" creates a very subtly wrought insult.

    Hugs to your >^..^< >^..^< from me! ;-)

  9. I love fennel, raw, steamed, fried, roasted, in soups and stews, yes I'll eat it in a house, yes I'll eat it with a mouse...but braising is one of the very best ways to cook it; as others have remarked, it turns all mild and buttery when braised. But my braised fennel never looked anywhere near this magical. Nor have I ever tried braising it with fruit. I'll have to try this soon--

  10. I need to delve into more fennel- looks delicious! :) + <3

  11. Laurie,

    I think you're gonna like fennel. It gets really buttery and lovely when cooked. Sounds like black licorice will have to be one more item for our someday "treehouse" session!

    Bryanna sounds like a good place to start for the anise cookies That is the way you spell/pronounce it in the plural, so totally makes sense. I think I've seen similar ones; did they have a little indentation in the center of the cookie, so sort of looked like a pinwheel or similar?

    Thanks for the alternate usage ideas of <3, so depending on who you are, :-X my <3 could mean pucker your heart or kiss my booty; it's nice to have options.

    Thanks for the hugs to my kitty whiskers!

  12. Zoa,

    :D...but would you eat it here or there? Would you eat it anywhere? Sounds like it. Me too! I've never tried it fried; that sounds really good!

  13. SV:

    You got it! I meant avocado fries rather than chips...just to set expectations. I'm dreamin' up some veggie burgers as we speak, but I'll probably post about pizza first.

  14. VegSpinz,

    I think fennel is pretty'll be fun to see what you come up with in your delving! :)

  15. I have a hard time with fennel, but I really want to like it. Your dish really looks tempting!

  16. Tami,

    I understand, some people really just don't like the taste: I always wonder whether it tastes differently to different people, or whether it's just a taste preference.

  17. Have to say I'm not a huge fan of fennel - but I don't really like aniseed, or liquorice either and to me they smell really similar. But like Tami above I do want to like it! This recipe looks great.

  18. Sweet,

    Thanks for stopping by. :)


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