Italians characterize fennel (and eggplant) as being either male or female. The “female” fennel has a thick, round, short, stocky bulb that is used raw in salads and also in cooking. The flatter elongated “male” fennel is primarily used in cooking. The simplest way to enjoy this root vegetable is to drizzle olive oil over thin slices, seasoned with a pinch of salt and dash of pepper.
In the United States and Canada, fennel is often and incorrectly called anise. Although, they both share a similar taste reminiscent of black licorice, they are not the same plant (Fennel vs. Anise).
Fresh fennel and citrus are a classic combination. If you like grapefruit, you could use pink or red grapefruit in place of the blood oranges for a refreshing first course or side dish. Depending on the sweetness (or rather lack of) of the oranges, I will add a non traditional splash of white balsamic. The option is yours.
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 2 blood oranges
- 1 navel orange
- 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- White balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Peel and slice the oranges (careful not to get any of the bitter white pith). Cut into chunks.
- In a medium size bowl, mix the oranges with the fennel.
- Add the olive oil and lemon juice, tossing to coat the fennel and oranges. Season with salt and pepper.
- If your taste buds tell you this dish could use a touch of sweetness, add the white balsamic.