Fennel offers an anise ( licorice) flavor. It's tasty raw in salads, but mildly sweet when cooked. The tall green stalks have wispy dill-like leaves at the top. Stalks grow from a white onion-like bulb. All parts are edible, although the bulb is mostly used.
Cut off and discard stalks, unless the dish calls for them. If tender, use in salads, and the wispy leaves (fronds) make a nice herb garnish.
Trim the bottom of the bulb and peel off any wilted or browning layers from the outside of the bulb. Cut the bulb in half, and cut out the core. Lay halves on their flat side and slice or chop as needed.
Parmesan Baked Fennel
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 fennel bulbs, cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices,
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
Lightly oil the bottom of a flat baking dish. Arrange fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then grated Parmesan. Drizzle with the oil. Bake at 375 degrees until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Garnish with fronds if desired.
Serves 4 - 6.
Estimated cost: $3.00 or less if buying a fennel bulb.