I love fennel. Its licorice-like aroma and beautiful yellowish green insides make it the perfect accompaniment to roasted veggies, as well as bean and rice dishes. Some say it has an acquired taste like cilantro. Does it appeal to your taste buds? It does mine. I am always in the pursuit of ways to marry fennel with other foods. It’s also delicious in dressings, marinades and sauces.
What is so good about this ivory bulbed herb with the whispy emerald green leaves? For starters, it’s in the celery clan and like its cousins, it’s very low-calorie with a mere 73 calories in medium-sizes bulb.
Filled with a ton of potassium for maintaining good blood pressure, vitamins A and C for antioxidant power, as well as fiber (with a whopping 7 grams + per bulb!) for good heart and colon health, fennel offers your body a flavorful and nutrient-rich deal.
Of course, you can use fennel raw – like celery, and reap all of its lovely benefits. However, I love to roast it and smell it’s lovely aroma wafting through the house. Since warm, summer-like temperatures are here in Chicago, I am going to toss some sliced fennel on the grill to soften and caramelize the flavors a bit. Just drizzle with olive oil, brush and add a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper and they are ready for open flame!
While the fennel is grilling, just open a bag of shelled edamame – steam or microwave them to heat. Feel free to toss on other veggies and spices. I slice up some Kalamata olives, plum tomatoes and grate a bit of Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. Whisk together some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and, for a little kick, add a dash or two of smoked crushed chipotle pepper flakes.
To make it a bit more creamy, instead of parmesan cheese you could mix in a smidge of goat cheese or ricotta cheese. This would add more of a decadent flavor to this veggie and herb medley while accenting the variety of textures and tastes. Enjoy this dish as a simple side dish or as a main dish with grilled chicken or seafood.
Grilled Fennel, Olives and Edamame with Chipotle Pepper Vinaigrette
Serves 4 (1/2 cup each)
1 medium bulb fennel, sliced
2 cups shelled edamame
1 tablespoon Kalamata olives, sliced
4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon crushed chipotle pepper flakes
A couple of pinches of salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the grill. In the meantime brush both sides of the sliced fennel with a tablespoon of the olive oil; save the rest of the vinaigrette. Add one pinch of the salt to the oil- brushed fennel. Place on the hot grill with a spatula (be careful as you may lose some pieces in the fire) – use tongs to turn the fennel slices over. Once browned, remove from grill and dice.
In a medium bowl, add edamame, if they are frozen heat them in the microwave for 3 – 5 minutes or steam them over boiling water in a steamer pot. Toss in grilled fennel, olives, and tomatoes with the edamame. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper flakes and salt for vinaigrette. Drizzle over fennel and edamame mixture and mix. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately or refrigerate to serve later. Place in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to three days.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 276, Total Fat: 20 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 6 mg, Sodium: 167 mg, Carbohydrates: 15 g, Dietary Fiber: 6 g, Sugars: 4 g, Protein: 12 g
Enjoy eating simply,