roasted fennel salad

my oh my, it seems like winter just won’t give up. While the past few weeks have been sunny, warm, and filled with springtime blooms this week has been surprisingly cold in Tuscany. A good reminder that seasons don’t change overnight and that everything is always in a state of flux.  My fantasies of spending the entire weekend in the garden basking in the sun will have to remain fantasies just a little while longer. 

Last night I happened to stay out a little too late and over indulge so tonight I am choosing to nourish my body and pausing for a quiet evening  of r&r at home. With that said, given that it’s so chilly out I decided to put a twist on my classic fennel and orange salad by roasting the fennel first. Roasting the fennel brings out an entirely different flavor; quite delicious. 

Fennel is like the perfect combination of crisp, crunchy celery and sweet licorice. It is a very common vegetable in Tuscan cuisine. You can eat the bulb raw as well as the feathery fronds that resemble dill weed – they make a nice garnish too.
Fennel is high in vitamin C and A. It is a great source of dietary fiber, and as such may help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels. And since fiber also removes potentially carcinogenic toxins from the colon, fennel bulb may also be useful in preventing colon cancer. Fennel is also high in potassium, manganese, and folate. I often include it in my green juice. 

Ingredients:
1 fennel blub per person
a couple oranges (or grapefruit)
2-3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt
1 small red onion
1 bunch fresh mint

Directions:
1. Preheat over to 375F.
2. Wash the fennel bulbs well and remove the green tops. Slice into sections about ½ inch thick. Place fennel in a roasting pan, sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt.
3. While fennel is roasting, prepare the other ingredients: Remove rind from orange and slice horizontally to make orange ‘coins’ (save rind). Cut red onion horizontally into paper-thin slices. Roll up several leaves of mint and slice thinly into ribbons.
4. Fennel is cooked when tender (about 15-20 minutes). Discard any burnt pieces.
5. Arrange everything on a plate. Squeeze juice from the leftover fruit inside the orange rind if any remains (no waste!) over the dish, and serve immediately.

Buon appetito.

 

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