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Tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, roasted fennel is a delicious and easy side dish perfect for the fall season.

Trader Joe’s carries bulbs of fennel, two to a pack. These large bulbs are are the base of the fennel stalks – white with a hint of green, with a nice aniseed- or licorice-like aroma. You can eat them raw, sliced and tossed with a lemon vinaigrette…or you can roast them. When you roast fennel, the slices soften and start to caramelize – the flavor is simply fantastic.  Tender, nutty, sweet, and delicious – there’s never any left over when I serve it. Roasted fennel goes with anything and is simple to make!

Fennel Recipe Trader Joes
Fennel sliced from Trader Joes

While the oven is preheating to 400° degrees, cut the fennel bulbs into 1/2 inch slices. Place them on a baking sheet (if desired, line with a Silpat baking mat for easy cleanup) and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (about 2 Tbsp of each). Toss to make sure the slices are evenly and well coated. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through cooking time.

Here in San Diego, I have fennel in my garden and it grows like crazy. It’s a perennial (comes back by itself every year) and it loves sunny, hot areas like coastal San Diego, but it can grow in most climates. 

Fennel not only tastes great but has a long list of health benefits like improving digestive health, relieving congestion, increasing breast milk, and so on.  Trivia: Fennel is also one of the main ingredients used in preparing absinthe! When my kids are in the garden, they’re often grazing on the delicately leafy tips of fennel, and I’m usually calling out,  “Be careful not to eat the caterpillars!” You see, the other fan of fennel is the gorgeous yellow Anise Swallowtail butterfly.  Every year the very cute green caterpillars can be found munching on the fennel and emerging from their chrysalides in our garden. Watching that cycle of life never ceases to amaze me –  we look forward to seeing them every year, and we don’t mind sharing our fennel.

Ingredients

  • 1.25 lbs fennel bulbs (2 fist-sized fennel bulbs)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° degrees
  2. Slice bulbs into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  3. Place bulbs on a baking sheet (optionally lined with a Silpat baking mat) and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat the slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through cooking time.
  5. When serving, sprinkle with Parmesan.