I know what you’re thinking, but I haven’t gone balmy. (Neither, by the way, has the weather here in the Midwest, despite the fact that it’s Spring.)
Why the nod to Thanksgiving? It’s an Ina Garten recipe I came across while looking for a vegetable side to go with roast chicken. The mild anise flavor of the fennel, combined with brussels sprouts and golden-browned potatoes, sounded appetizing, if not exactly appropriate for the time of year.
A Google search allayed my hesitance–the peak season for fennel extends into Spring. Brussels sprouts? They’re more of a fall/winter veg, but they’re available year-round. If you’re not a Brussels sprouts fan, substitute green beans or asparagus, but adjust the cooking time. I’ll explain below.*
Fennel is indigenous to the Mediterranean, hence it is common in Mediterranean cuisine. Its taste is mildly licorice-like, its texture is similar to celery. Sliced raw fennel is eaten in salads, while cooked fennel is commonly prepared like this or in pasta dishes.
I roasted these vegetables twice over the weekend, and have decided that Ina aptly named the recipe. I am thankful that I finally found fennel, better late (in the Spring) than never.
2 fennel bulbs, tops cut off
1 lb. small or fingerling potatoes (I used baby Yukon Gold potatoes)
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the fennel bulbs in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 pieces. Be sure to cut through the core to keep the wedges from falling apart. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Place the fennel and potatoes on a large baking sheet and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Place them on another baking sheet, and sprinkle them with a bit of oil and salt and pepper as well.
Place the two baking sheets into the oven and roast for about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring the vegetables once during cooking time, until the potatoes are tender. Gild the lily, if you will, and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
*If you choose to use green beans or asparagus instead of Brussels sprouts, slice them diagonally into 3″ lengths and do not add them until the last 10 minutes of cooking time. You can just toss them onto the same sheet as the fennel and potatoes, stirring when you add them in.