Holy shit guys, do I love fennel. Adam does not (weirdo). So the other week when I saw whole (massive) fennel bulbs for $1 each (!) I knew that their cheap fennel-y goodness would be all mine. It was so cheap because fennel is a winter vegetable, and it’s winter here in Australia (ha, our version of winter – it’s 20 degrees C today). So I bought two enormous bulbs. All mine.
One morning at 5 am, I woke up and knew what I wanted to do with it – combine it with all the other things Adam doesn’t like a lot (like balsamic vinegar and brown rice) and eat them all off one plate like the greedy guts I am. I’m such a fennel greedy guts that I even snuck toasted fennel seeds into the tricked-out brown rice.
Seriously though, I wish Adam liked fennel more, because then he’d be in for one of the tastiest, most versatile vegetables out there. Fresh and raw, or soft and caramelised, fennel is delicious either way. You can even eat it’s seeds and fronds. Sweet!
A final gush about this recipe: the roasted fennel works amazingly with the nutty brown rice and the toasted hazelnuts (I’m not sure another nut would have the same effect, but if you don’t have hazelnuts, try almonds). Some sort of fennel-hazelnut-brown rice love triangle happened. And it was delicious.
If you haven’t tried fennel before, and aren’t really sure if it’s your thing, I highly recommending roasting it (like in this recipe). Roasting fennel until it’s soft and caramelised mellows the aniseed flavour (which can be pretty full-on raw) and makes the fennel sweet and sublime.
On the other hand, if you’re a fennel hound like me, it’s perfect in raw in salads, and practically has a love affair with rocket and lemon juice.
A few more fennel-focussed recipes:
- Triple Fennel and Spelt Salad at My New Roots
- Shaved Fennel Salad at 101 Cookbooks
- Fennel and Carrot Slaw with Orange, Olives and Dill at The First Mess
A few more fennel-y ideas:
- Slice raw fennel and serve with with a selection of dips (salsa verde and romesco spring to mind)
- Top pizza or flatbreads with roasted fennel
- Thinly shave fennel and toss with rocket, lemon juice and olive oil for a simple green salad
- Add sliced fennel to tomato-based vegetable soup to take it up a notch (or five)
Roasted Fennel with Tricked-Out Brown Rice
- This is enough to serve two people generously. I know that if I had some rocket lying around it definitely would have made its way into this salad, so don’t be shy if you’re luckier in the rocket department than me.
- My only other suggestion is that this salad should ideally be served at room temperature. Add some cooked cannellini beans for some extra protein and deliciousness if you desire.
- 1 large fennel bulb, top trimmed, fronds reserved, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 2 cups cooked brown rice, at room temperature
- 1.5 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/3 c whole hazelnuts
- 1 spring onion, greens parts only, thinly sliced
- lemon wedges, to serve
Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F) (no fan) and line a baking tray with baking paper. In a medium bowl, toss sliced fennel with oil, vinegar and season to taste. Arrange on the tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until soft and caramelised.
Meanwhile, toast fennel seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant, and set aside to cool. In the same pan, toast the hazelnuts over medium heat. Remove hazelnuts from pan and allow to cool for a few minutes before roughly chopping. In a medium bowl, combine rice, hazelnuts, fennel seeds and sliced spring onion Stir to combine and then divide evenly between two plates.
Once the fennel is roasted, arrange on top of the rice and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds. Serve with lemon wedges. Best enjoyed warm or at room temperature.