As a general rule, Americans love Italian food, or at least they think they do. But what I’ve discovered by living in Tuscany is that most Americans have no clue what real Italian or Tuscan food is. Most American tourists come here, over indulge on pasta, pizza, bread, wine, etc.. and then lament the fact that Tuscan food is heavy and not healthy. But Italians would never eat that way and their lifestyle is such that they can savor their traditional cuisine and still maintain a very healthy lifestyle and beautiful figure. How else would you explain that obesity is not a problem here and that some of the longest life expectancies are found here.
Italians know that if you eat pasta for lunch, you would never do so again for dinner. Italians know that while there may be one heavy course served with a typical dinner such as a primi (pasta) or secondi (meat).. there are usually a handful of contorni (simple veggie sides or salads) that accompany the meal and typically make up the largest portion of the meal really.
So when tourists overdo it and feel sick to their stomach (literally), I have to chuckle a little, because they are not eating like Italians.. they are eating like Americans in Italy.
With that said, one of my favorite ingredients in Tuscany is fennel and I use it on a regular basis… raw, cooked, or even juiced with my favorite greens. Fennel is a go to veggie for me and of course it tastes delicious. If you’ve read this blog before I’m sure you’ve seen some of my other fennel recipes.
Today I wanted to share a simple Tuscan dish with you. I hope you give it a try and like it. This roasted fennel also pairs perfectly with chickpeas, quinoa, couscous, or over a bowl of creamy polenta. Get creative.
And the next time you come here please don’t just eat Italian food.. but eat come se tu fossi Italiano… (buon appetito)
- 1 large head of fennel
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- large handful fresh parsley
- juice from ½ lemon (maybe a little more depending on your palette)
- sea salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup cooked white beans
- Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash and quarter the fennel bulbs. Spread the fennel onto the baking sheet and coat them lightly in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the cloves of garlic on the tray, season with sea salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes, flipping and adding the beans halfway through.
- When the fennel is golden brown and the beans are warmed through take them out of the oven and set aside. In a small food processor pulse together the roasted garlic cloves, parsley, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Drizzle the parsley oil over the fennel and the beans, toss gently and serve.