Caramelized Fennel with Goat Cheese

Even if you don’t think that you like fennel, give this a try — you may find yourself eating it directly from the pan before it can even get to the table!

1 medium or 2 small fennel bulbs
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1-1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 – 1 Tbsp sugar, depending how sweet you want it
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 small garlic clove (or a couple garlic scapes), crushed or diced
1/3 cup chopped dill
grated zest of one lemon
coarse sea salt and black pepper
goat cheese

Start by preparing the fennel bulbs. First, cut off the leafy fronds, keeping a bit aside for the garnish. Next, slice off the end of the root and remove the tough outer layers (the HCF bulbs probably don’t have tough outer layers!), making sure the base still holds everything together. Cut each bulb lengthwise into 1/2 in. thick slices.

Melt butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add a layer of sliced fennel. Do not overcrowd the pan and don’t turn the fennel over or stir it around in the pan until one side has become light golden, which will take a few minutes. Using tongs, turn the slices over and cook for another few minutes.

Once all the fennel is done and removed from the pan, reduce the heat, then add the sugar, fennel seeds, and plenty of salt and pepper to the pan. Fry for 30 seconds, adding a little more oil or butter if needed, until the sugar is dissolved, then return all the fennel to the pan and caramelize them gently. Once the fennel is caramelized, coated with sauce and tender, turn off the heat and add the garlic. Stir again to incorporate it.

To serve, toss the fennel in a bowl with the dill and lemon zest. Taste and adjust seasoning. Arrange on a serving plate, and top with goat cheese .

– adapted from Ottolenghi, Year of Plenty