Cooking By Color – Green
Today’s Cooking By Color food is fennel. Fennel is an unusual herb that doesn’t get a lot of love. It’s sort of green and white. I think people are a little freaked out by it at the store and have no idea what to do with it. With it’s bulbous bottom, long protruding tops and fronds abound it’s no wonder no one touches it. My roommate snuck in while I was preparing this dish and shyly asked “Can I eat this raw?”…crunch, crunch, crunch. I personally love fennel raw and cooked. Slice super thin and toss in salads or dice it up and throw it in a soup for a nice zing. It has a somewhat licorice or anise flavor to it.
After doing a little wikipedia research it turns out fennel has medicinal properties as well. It helps with gas and bloating, can improve eyesight, be used as a potential treatment for hypertension, and fennel tea can help with respiratory issues. Who knew!? It’s got vitamin C, fiber, and folate making it a great addition to your other culinary herbs.
A fancy pants way to use fennel is to caramelize it like you would do with onions and serve it on a veggie burger. To caramelize the fennel you need quite a bit of oil and continue to saute over a medium high heat until translucent. I use less oil and add a touch of water when the fennel sticks to the pan. For my no-oil peeps you can probably use veggie broth or water instead of oil completely. I’m all for making veggie burgers from scratch but I always have some store-bought ones on hand for emergencies.
Veggie Burger with Caramelized Fennel and Cashew Basil Aioli
Makes enough toppings for 3 burgers
High heat oil
About 1 cup packed fennel thinly sliced
Pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
Cashew Basil Aioli
Makes about 1/2 cup
Heat cast iron skillet over medium high flame with a dash of oil. Add fennel with a pinch of salt and saute until translucent. If fennel begins to stick add a touch of water. Stir in the vinegar and continue to saute until no liquid remains. This whole process took about 10 minutes.
Drain cashews and blend with the remaining aioli ingredients except basil. I used a magic bullet to make this since it’s such a small amount of sauce. Blend until smooth and creamy then blend in basil. Season to taste.
Cook veggie burger and toast bread. Top burger with a handful of caramelized fennel and spread aioli all over the bun. Enjoy!
How do YOU like to prepare fennel? Tell us what are your favorite burger toppings?