Those who have looked upon it say it has the bulbs of an onion topped with celery-like-stalks and a feathery green carrot top, but this mystery vegetable is no mystery at all. The name of this intriguing and versatile find is fennel, and it’s about time you started using it more in your dishes if you haven’t already.
Highly popular in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine, fennel is a sweet, aromatic plant that is closely related to parsley, carrots, and coriander. It tastes similar to anise with its licorice-like flavors. If you’re wondering which part of it is edible, the answer is all of it! The bulbs can be served raw or cooked, the stalks work well as celery-substitutes, the leaves can be chopped and used as garnish, and the seeds can be dried and used as a sweet spice, which is commonly found in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine.
Fennel also contains a number of medicinal properties. Not only is it great for digestion, stomach pains, and coughs, it stimulates milk production for new mothers and helps soothe babies suffering from colic. But enough about how great it is. Try it for yourself!
Sauté of Chicken with Fennel and Apples
Makes 4 servings
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 large fennel bulb, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds, trimmed to fit large feed tube
1 large golden delicious apple, about 1/2 pound, cored and halved
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 5 ounces each
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
1/2 cup chicken stock
In a food processor, process the parsley for 10 seconds to chop; remove and reserve. With the machine running, drop the garlic through the feed tube and process 10 seconds to chop; remove and reserve. Insert the 8 mm slicing disc, use medium pressure to slice the fennel and apples. Remove and reserve.
Place the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap, use a flat meat pounder to pound to an even thickness of 1/2 - inch. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper.
In a sauté pan, heat one tablespoon of the oil over medium high heat. Add the fennel, apples, herbs and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper; cook for 10 - 12 minutes, stirring now and then until the fennel and apples are tender and golden brown. Transfer to a dish, cover loosely with foil.
With the sauté pan still over medium high heat, add the remaining olive oil and heat. Add the chicken to the pan "skin side down" and sprinkle with the remaining herbs. Cook for about 5 minutes, stir in the garlic, turn and cook for 3 - 4 minutes longer. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm with the fennel and apples. Add the chicken stock to the pan, cook for 1 minute to reduce by half. Return the chicken, fennel and apples, and any accumulated juices to the pan, bring to a simmer. Cover and remove from the heat, let sit for 5 minutes to steam. Sprinkle with the reserved parsley and serve hot.