Over the past year or so my sons have shown little to no interest in what I choose at the farm share each week. This has been a source of disappointment for me for two reasons: 1) I love walking through the selections with them and talking about their favorites as well as about new fruits and vegetables they (or we) hadn’t tried yet and 2) I felt like somehow this weekly ritual that I consider to be such a privilege and treat just seemed commonplace to them. Then this week I realized that I was seeing it all wrong.
My older son was playing at the nearby playground while I was picking out our food and I called him over in the hopes that he would help me pick out one last vegetable. He came trotting over, I told him what I had already picked out and asked him to pick out one more vegetable. He walked around the table, looking at everything that was there, and then reached for the fennel. As we walked back to the car he asked if he could munch on a stalk of fennel as we drove home, which of course I happily agreed to, and in that moment I realized that the magic of the farm share had actually been working the whole time. You see, not only did he enjoy fennel (which I did not know even existed when I was his age!) to the point that he couldn’t even wait to get home to eat it, but all those years of weekly treks to the farm share had gotten him to a point where he was able to recognize everything on the table and make an informed decision that was truly exciting to him!
So in honor of his appreciation of fennel I wanted to share with you a favorite grilled salad that helped me to learn to enjoy this vegetable that I was not crazy about when I first tried it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with fennel, when it is raw it has quite a strong anise (black licorice) flavor to it, but if you roast or grill it the flavor changes completely and it become subtle and sweet. This salad can be made on the grill outside or on a grill pan on your stove and it is a great summer salad to serve with grilled meats or veggie burgers. It is light, refreshing, and wonderfully crunchy.
- 2 small red onions
- 2 small bulbs of fennel
- 1 tablespoon crumbled feta, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, or more to taste
- extra virgin olive oil
- half a lemon
- salt and pepper
- Preheat your grill or grill pan and set it to a medium heat.
- While the grill is heating, cut the onion into ½-inch thick slices. Then cut the stalks off of the fennel bulb so you are left just with the bulb. Cut it in half lengthwise and then, like the onion, again into ½-inch thick slices.
- Brush the onion and fennel slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, on both sides.
- Lay the slices on the grill let them cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until they are just starting to soften.
- Place them on a platter and top with thyme, crumbled feta, a drizzle of olive oil, and a good squeeze from the lemon. Add more salt and pepper, if desired.
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