This simple but tasty side dish was inspired by a post by PutneyFarm. Fennel is one of many vegetables that shines most when it’s roasted or broiled or grilled or braised to concentrate the flavor. Raw fennel also has its charm, just don’t boil or steam it because then it will be bland. PutneyFarm panfries the fennel to allow it to caramelize, but I decided to use the broiler instead. It was quite easy to do, but a bit hard to control the caramelizing because it turns from underdone to overdone in a very short time. (For the scientists among you: when the fennel is still light-colored it reflects a lot of the radiant heat from the broiler. As soon as the color darkens it will absorb more of the radiant heat so the cooking process will accelerate.) Next time I will probably pan-fry for better control of the process.
salt and freshly ground white pepper
extra virgin olive oil
freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
Slice the fennel into thin slices crosswise, discarding the bottom slice and stopping right when you get to the green stalks on top. A thickness of 3 mm (1/8 inch) is great, but a little thicker is fine too.
Put the fennel on a wire rack and brush with olive oil on both sides.