The Sweet Taste of Summer!
Summertime is filled with sunshine, outside picnics and family fun. When I first looked at the menu for this week's White Picket Produce box, my mind started swirling with the possibilities as soon as I saw fennel. In my opinion, fennel is underrated, under-praised and under-utilized in cooking. Fennel has a cabbage like texture with a sweet, licorice flavor that tends to take the lead in many recipes, but when given the opportunity to shine, I can almost guarantee it will become one of your favorite summertime vegetables. I saw the Valencia oranges, the pears, the tomatoes, and the cucumber; I was ready to start cooking and my box hasn't even been delivered yet!
Cucumber, Tomato and Fennel Summer Salad
Let's start with a classic summertime salad combination of cucumber and tomato, paired with fennel. This recipe is probably the simplest one with the most flavor. Slice up the tomatoes into a medium dice, the cucumber into slices, and the fennel into medium strips. Toss them in a bowl and whip up this easy vinegarette.
1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and mix in with the vegetables for a refreshing summer salad!
Super Summer Soup
Another fantastic recipe takes the cake for a fresh summer soup, perfect for an afternoon lunch. With a bubbly white wine, this dish has the undertones of luxury that lifts the flavors of the fennel to royal status.
1 1/2 bulbs of fresh fennel, sliced.
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium pears, diced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil or butter in your dutch oven or a large pot and once the oil is hot, add the fennel and onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and allow it to cook down for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and just starting to caramelize.
2. Add in the pears and finish cooking the mixture.
3. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and then add in the water and the bay leaf. Cover the pot and allow it to come up to a boil before reducing the heat and simmering on a low heat mostly covered (just allow some of the steam out) for about 5-10 minutes.
4. Remove the bay leaf before blending the soup with an immersion blender. If you need to use a free standing blender, let the soup cool down before blending to avoid splatter.
Then enjoy! I prefer to serve this soup with a nice piece of crusty bread, or it's even delicious with some shaved parmesan cheese!
Citrus Fennel Salad
One of my favorite summertime dinners is grilling a great piece of chicken or fish with either a slice of lemon or orange on top.. This citrus inspired salad pairs perfectly with that!
Slice up your fennel as thinly as you can, then peel and slice your orange. I learned that if you slice the top and bottom portion of your orange and then slice the peel off in horizontal sections, it's super east to slice up the orange into little wedges perfect for a salad! To make the dressing for this salad, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a tablespoon of either orange or lemon juice with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the top and garnish with a bit of chopped flat leaf parsley, and you're ready to serve!
I hope you enjoy some of my favorite fennel recipes. I'd love to hear some of your creations as well! With any luck, you have found a new favorite summertime vegetable. Happy Healthy Eating!
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