Roasted Fennel and Root Vegetables

Makes 12 servings*

 

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, unpeeled**

1 fennel bulb

3 large carrots unpeeled

1 parsnip

8 ounces turnip root or Brussels sprouts

1 large or 3 small beets unpeeled

1 medium to large red onion

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and extra for the pan

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Garnish with chopped fennel frons, fresh  thyme, rosemary or parsley as desired.  

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 400°F or 375° for convection.  
  2. Drizzle 2 half sheet pans with extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Wash all of the vegetables and scrub with a brush if you are not going to peel. Peel if desired.  
  4. Cut vegetables into large bite-sized pieces, making them as much of a uniform size as possible to roast evenly.  
  5. Place all the vegetables into a large bowl.
  6. Mix together the 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper and vinegar if desired. Pour over the vegetable and stir until all are coated.  
  7. Spoon out onto the oiled pans and make sure the vegetables are in a single layer.  
  8. Roast on the center rack of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, turning halfway through.
  9. Vegetables will be golden brown and tender when done.  
  10. Garnish if desired.  

 

*If you want, you can cut the recipe in half or use leftovers in many other recipes.

**Peeling will reduce the dietary fiber content and nutritional value somewhat.

 

 Adapted from hummingbirdthyme.com

 

IN SEASON

 

Fennel – March

 

Fennel is a slightly sweet, licorice-flavored vegetable that is grown primarily in the Mediterranean and more now in the U.S. It has a round bulb-like base with celery-like stalks and leaves that resemble dill. Although it has a bulb like an onion, fennel grows above ground. In the summer it has a cap of yellow flowers that look like Queen Anne’s lace. There are two basic types of fennel: Florence or Roman fennel which produces thick celery-like stalks and is eaten like a vegetable, and sweet fennel whose seeds are used as an herb. Both types have feathery leaves that can be used as a green herb. Fennel is closely related to carrots, parsley, dill, and coriander.

 

Peak Time: Autumn through early spring                                                                                     

                                                                                                                    

Average Price: $3.59 each

 

Tips for Selection and Storage: Choose fennel with fat, white bulbs that are 3 or 4 inches wide with fresh green leaves and stems. The white base should be free of brown spots and bruises.  Avoid splits and any signs of wilt. Fennel stalks will keep in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic 3–4 days. Fresh fennel leaves can be kept in the refrigerator or frozen in ice cube trays. Dried fennel seeds should be kept in airtight containers in a cool, dry place.

 

Tips for Preparation: Every part of the fennel plant can be eaten. Fennel stalks can be eaten raw or cooked. They should be removed from the bulb and sliced into strips for eating in salads or sautéing or stir frying. To braise, the bulbs can first be halved or quartered. The fennel stems and leaves can be snipped and used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces. Fennel is an excellent addition to baked or grilled seafood, stuffing, vinaigrette dressings, vegetable and seafood salads, and pork. Fennel seeds taste good in breads, crackers, sausages, curries, and cabbage dishes.

 

Nutritional Highlights: Fennel is very low in calories, about 7 calories per 1 teaspoon of dried seed and 30 calories per cup of cooked fennel. Fennel has a unique combination of phytonutrients that give it strong antioxidant activity. The root and stems are rich in dietary fiber, potassium and manganese. Fennel is also an excellent source of vitamin C that boosts its antioxidant power. The leaves are also good source of beta-carotene. Fennel contains a volatile oil that reduces body inflammation.