Special of the day: Make a New Fresh Vegetable Friend: Fennel

23 Jan Special of the day: Make a New Fresh Vegetable Friend: Fennel

Sauteed Fennel, Bacon and Gruyere Tart

Looking to make a new fresh vegetable friend in the supermarket this week? At its personal best from fall through early spring is fennel, sometimes called anise in the grocery story due to its slightly sweet and subtle licorice-like flavor. Every bit of this versatile vegetable is edible, from its large white bulb to its light green stems and wispy fern-like leaves.

Fennel seed can be purchased in the spice aisle and is often used in Italian sausage or other Mediterranean-inspired dishes. A sprinkle of fennel seed on egg-washed bread sticks just before baking adds an enjoyable boost of flavor, too.

Equally delicious eaten raw in a salad, roasted for a soup or vegetable lasagna or sautéed for an appetizer or entrée tart, fennel packs a powerful punch nutritionally, providing your body with an ample supply of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, manganese and folate.

Need I say more to convince you to make friends with fennel? Revitalize your recipe box with this week’s Special of the day: Make a New Fresh Vegetable Friend: Fennel and recipes for Composed Salad of Avocado, Fennel and Oranges and Sautéed Fennel, Bacon and Gruyere Tart. Enjoy!

Composed Salad of Avocado, Fennel and Oranges

Composed Salad of Avocado, Fennel and Oranges

(serves four as a side salad)

2 cups mixed greens

2 ripe avocados

2 oranges

1 large bulb fennel

Dressing:

½ cup orange juice

2 tsp. honey

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

2 tsp. oil

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

In a medium jar, combine all dressing ingredients. Cover and shake until well-mixed.

Toss mixed greens with dressing in medium bowl, reserving about 3 tbsp. dressing.

Divide dressed greens among four salad plates.

Peel, pit and thinly slice avocados and arrange on top of dressed greens on each salad plate. Peel oranges and slice into thin slices. Arrange orange slices on salads. Thinly slice or shave fennel with a mandolin and add sliced fennel to composed salads. Drizzle reserved dressing over composed salads and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!

Sauteed Fennel, Bacon and Gruyere Tart

Sautéed Fennel, Bacon and Gruyere Tart

(Makes a 10 x 12-inch tart)

2 tbsp. butter

1 large bulb fennel, sliced into thin slices (about 1 cup)

¾ cup Gruyere cheese, grated

6 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions

*Make sure puff pastry is thawed (about 40 minutes) before starting recipe.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll thawed puff pastry sheet out on lightly floured work surface to make a rectangle about 11 inches by 13 inches. Transfer puff pastry to a baking sheet.

Heat butter in medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add sliced fennel and sauté until softened and lightly browned.  Sprinkle grated cheese over pastry, leaving a 1 inch border of crust around the cheese. Top cheese with sautéed fennel and crumbled bacon. Fold puff pastry inward on all four sides making a one-inch frame around the tart. Brush frame with melted butter. Bake tart in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown and flaky. Let cool slightly and cut into squares. Enjoy!

Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at sydnegeorge@hotmail.com . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.

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