I’ve Been Inspired by …. Fennel

A few days ago, I was reading a recipe for Fennel & Basil Chickpea Salad on Becca’s Green Kitchen¬†– a wonderful blog for vegetarian cooking – and I was surprised to see that it called for sauteing the fennel. I have only used raw fennel in salads. I have used cooked fennel in soups, but not in ages; and I actually had forgotten about doing so until I read Becca’s blog. When I commented on this, Becca encouraged me to give cooked fennel a new try. So this morning – as part of my Let The Inspiration In Challenge – our breakfast special was a Bacon, Mushroom and Fennel Omelette served with a side of fresh fruit and a strawberry buttermilk muffin. I hope that Becca isn’t cringing over my having used bacon, but for the group of guests that I had this morning, I thought that would be an appealing special. The guests who ordered the omelette gave it two thumbs up and ¬†told me that they liked the texture and flavor of the fennel with the mushrooms and bacon. Having now tried cooked fennel for the first time in a long while, I have a greater appreciation for this vegetable’s versatility. Raw fennel is quite crunchy and has a strong licorice flavor which I enjoy. Cooked, it has a subtle herbaceous flavor and, I think, is not recognizable as the same vegetable. Becca said that she caramelizes hers so that it gets almost a charred flavor. To cook the fennel this morning, I sauteed it in olive oil until crisp-tender and seasoned it with sea salt and fresh ground green and pink peppercorns. (While it was cooking, I sauteed mushrooms and cooked bacon, then tossed them together for the omelette filling before topping the filling with cheese.) Having new found appreciation for fennel, I can imagine sauteing it for use in pasta dishes and risottos as well as in Becca’s chickpea salad – which I am definitely going to make, just not for breakfast. Thanks for the inspiration, Becca and forgive me for the bacon!