I smelled it the moment we walked into the farm. Fennel.
That horrible licorice smell overpowered everything else in our CSA pick-up. Usually we drive home with our goods breathing in the earthy smell of root vegetables and the sweet smell of basil, sometimes it’s overpowered by the pungent smell of green onions. But, it is always pleasant.
This ride home was not as pleasant.
I routinely throw away black jelly beans. To me, the only “licorice” worth eating is red and comes with the name “Twizzlers” written on the package. I was not looking forward to cooking with this horrendous vegetable.
Now, you might ask yourself why I didn’t just leave the fennel in the “exchange box” at the farm, since I seem to hate it so.
Well, the answer is that I am stubborn. I vowed to try everything that came in our CSA this season. Part of the reason I was so interested in being a part of a CSA was that I wanted to get “surprise” vegetables. We so often gravitate to the same vegetables week after week because I am comfortable with them. I know what to do with them, I know how they taste, I know Mr. likes them… it’s easy. So, the CSA was supposed to help us expand our horizons a bit.
We are big time vegetable lovers, so our routine vegetable preparation tends to run a little left of normal anyway, but it had never included the detestable fennel. Until now.
It sat on the counter for a day. Then, in the crisper drawer for another day after I googled the proper care for fennel and it said to keep it in the fridge.
My internet bar had no less than twenty tabs open to fennel recipes. I discarded the idea of eating it raw, because I knew I could not deal with that smell. I was pretty tempted by a homemade ketchup recipe, but decided that was a little bit of a cop-out. Finally, I settled on just roasting it. Keep it simple.
I chopped it up, tossed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and put it in it’s own dish in the oven away from the potatoes I was also roasting in case they contaminated them.
And… I waited.
Soon, the house was filled with an almost (dare I say it??) pleasant smell. I opened the oven door to stir the roasting veggies and… the fennel looked… tasty.
Mr. Moore came home and commented, “Smells good!” He always says that when I’m cooking. And I always respond by saying, “I hope it tastes good!”
This time I said, “It’s FENNEL!!! I’m making the fennel!!!” My exclamation was dripping with incredulity.
Then, I took it out of the oven. It looked so good! Brown and crispy and the smell was wonderful. I couldn’t help myself, I snuck a taste.
And. There. On the spot. I was converted.
FENNEL IS SO GOOD, YOU GUYS!
I snuck another bite, and another. I yelled up to Mr., “I think you’re going to like dinner, Babe!!” as I shoved another piece of fennel in my mouth. I dumped the whole dish in with the potatoes and stirred, convinced they needn’t be separated a moment longer.
Now, I am anxiously awaiting our next batch of vegetables from the CSA and I am crossing my fingers that it might include some nice, big fennel bulbs.