Sunday, April 15, 2012

Orange-Balsamic Caramelized Fennel

I'm participating again in this month's Eating the Alphabet Challenge.  This month we had to make a dish using fruit, vegetables, or grains using the letters E or F.  I'm really trying to "challenge" myself with this challenge by cooking with ingredients that I don't normally use.  I do not like fennel seeds, although I can eat them in sausage.  I may have eaten fennel before but know that I personally have never cooked it before making this.  I only bought one fennel bulb and ended up quarterting the recipe.  For convenience purposes though I posted the original recipe portions, although the original recipe called for fennel seeds (yuck!).  I'm proud of myself for cooking outside my normal veggies.  However, no one was a big fan of this dish.  It definitely had that licorice taste.  When I told the kids that fennel tasted like licorice they were excited.  They tasted a bite and told me it didn't taste like licorice.  I told them it definitely did and then realized that to them, licorice is red twizzlers!  They've never had "real" licorice!  Needless to say, they weren't eating any more than the one bite.  If you're a fan of fennel though, this may be right up your alley.  I can now say that I don't like any forms!

Orange-Balsamic Caramelized Fennel
recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light, November 2008

4 (1-pound) fennel bulbs with stalks, trimmed
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced

1. Cut each fennel bulb in half through root end; cut each half into quarters to form 32 total pieces. Chop 1 tablespoon fronds; reserve.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 8 fennel pieces in a single layer in pan; sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove fennel from pan; recoat pan with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining fennel and sugar.

3. Return fennel to pan. Stir in broth and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 38 minutes or until fennel is crisp-tender and liquid is almost evaporated, turning occasionally. Top with reserved fennel fronds.

Family Rating:  So-so.


  1. I have never cooked with fennel before, though I am a fan of "real" licorice! =) May have to give this a try--I'm trying to branch out and try new things; that's one of the fun parts of this Challenge. =)

  2. Fennel makes a delicious soup. Just cook it up with potatoes and blend the whole thing. The strong fennel taste is muted by the creamy potato and it's absolutely delicious!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. For the time being, I think I'm going to not be cooking with fennel again anytime soon!

  3. Kudos to you for trying something new. That's always a good thing, even if you end up not really liking it. I'm the same way as you with the fennel, though. It's an odd vegetable, to be sure!

  4. I tried cooking with fennel for the first time last year (for last year's Eating the Alphabet) and wasn't really sure about the taste. I made a cucumber, avocado, fennel salsa and it was not bad--the fennel flavor kind of blended into the other flavors. Glad you gave it a try for the challenge even though it didn't turn out as something you all liked so much. Live and learn--that's the whole idea of trying new things!

    1. That's why I love your challenge so much! I'm definitely trying to challenge myself and go outside my comfort cooking!