Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fennel Way You Slice It

For this Independence Day holiday, I started off the day in the kitchen, celebrating my growing freedom from corporate processed foods derived from industrial agribusiness. (Yes, I've been reading Wendell Berry again; haven't you?)

Instead, I pulled lots of good local, organic produce from the refrigerator and started cooking.

First, I blanched some organic peas and started drying them in the oven. (Have to learn how to dry fruits and vegetables more effectively!) Then I took the big bundle of organic basil purchased from the Cheerful Lady and the garlic from the Taste-Everything! Lady and whipped up a batch of good homemade pesto, all of which got spooned into an ice cube tray and popped into the freezer.

At last, I was ready to start working on lunch.

While at the market Saturday, I found fresh fennel at the Original Organic Farmer's stand and decided to give it a try.

I never liked licorice or anise flavors as a kid, but I did have cooked fennel once a couple years ago and was pleasantly surprised by how inviting that anise flavor could be when deepened by long, slow cooking.

So I carried that bulb of fennel home and immediately reached for my new favorite cookbook, Local Flavors, to find a recipe that sounded worthwhile. And though I found three that sounded very tempting, I settled on pasta with golden fennel.

There wasn't a whole lot on this small bulb, so I cut back the recipe considerably, but as soon as the slices of fennel hit the hot pan and started browning, they smelled heavenly and completely worth the effort. The fennel cooked down with garlic and a splash of lemon juice, and it simmered away happily in water while I cooked a handful of saffron pasta ribbons.

When everything was ready, I threw it all together, added the chopped fennel greens, and had an incredibly tasty lunch.

I meant to save some for my lunch tomorrow, but, well, that didn't happen. Oh well!

And I think I might have to find more at the market next Saturday!


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