Fennel bulb, sometimes called anise, sitting on the grocer’s shelf, is pale and unbecoming. Seasoned and roasted to golden perfection in a hot oven, it’s delicious. If you’ve been skipping this funny looking vegetable with frilly green fronds, you’ll want to add it to your basket and give it a try.
In addition to being tasty, with a slight licorice note, it has some interesting properties. Fennel seed oil emulsion eliminated colic in 65 percent of infants in one study (this would have been useful to know 10 years ago!) In combination with some other herbs, it has also been found to suppress the growth of certain tumors.
But of more immediate interest to me, as I cook it up for dinner, is that it is the perfect accompaniment to beans. Turns out it relieves gas, therefore aiding digestion. So even if you don’t have a colicky infant in the house, it may be something that helps you get more plant-based protein into your diet.
Modified from Cooking Light.
2 bulbs fennel, sliced very thin
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
¾ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon cayenne, optional
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 (15oz) cans Great Northern or Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups fresh baby greens (kale, spinach, chard blend)
Preheat your oven to 450°.
Place the sliced fennel in a large bowl. Drizzle on 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with ½ teaspoon black pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt, cayenne, and garlic. Mix well.
Arrange the fennel in a single layer on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 450° for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fennel. Stir, sprinkle with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the beans and cook 2 minutes until heated through. Add the roasted fennel and baby greens to the pan. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir to combine, cooking about 2 minutes until the greens start to wilt. Serve immediately.