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Ounce for ounce, the anti-oxidant capacity of pomegranate juice beats that of blueberry juice, cranberry juice, and red wine.

- Fact #7
Hawaii’s Gold Macadamia Nut Oil

Deborah says: "Macadamia nut oil has an ultra-mild flavor and a high smoke point which makes it ideal for stir-frying and high-temperature roasting. It’s my go-to oil in ethnic cuisines whose flavors are not compatible with olive oil. Because it’s healthier than any of them, I substitute it for canola, peanut, vegetable, grapeseed, sunflower, and safflower in any recipe calling for a neutral oil. Oils of Aloha, a small family-owned Hawaiian producer, makes the finest macadamia oil on the market."

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Fennel with Garlic and Parsley

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Photo Ben Gebo Photography

Ben Gebo Photography

STRATEGY SESSION: This dish illustrates 2 of my basic strategies for cooking with very little oil: Foil Roasting and Pooling Oil. It’s well known that fat is our most powerful flavor intensifier and any reductions in it demand compensation. Here four fennel bulbs are prepared with only 1 tablespoon of oil, an amount insufficient to sauté them effectively. The addition of water would solve the cooking problem, but it would dilute the flavor. Instead, I first roast the fennel in foil so that it steams in its own juice, which actually enhances the flavor. Then, in the final step,  I pool the oil to intensify the flavor of the garlic and parsley.

Incidentally, the foil technique has a side-benefit:  You can roast the fennel several days in advance (say, on the weekend) and use it as an almost instant side-dish on a busy weeknight.

Fennel just can’t seem to break into the big time. Although it’s readily available, it remains a mystery to many people. Even those who’ve eaten it have no idea how to cook it.  And yet, it’s delicious, versatile, and compatible with a wide range of protein dishes. Fish and shellfish love its mild licorice flavor; pork and duck revel in its delicate sweetness. Served raw in salads and slaws, fennel can be bright and refreshing, but—when it’s cooked—it turns mellow and soothing.

Serving suggestions: This dish goes beautifully with pork, duck. and seafood. I suspect it would also be delicious with lamb, but I’ve never tried that pairing. I love it with Shrimp Marinara, Zuppa di Pesce, and Grilled Pork Chops with Pomegranate Glaze. The zuppa and the pork will appear in posts within the next month. Stay tuned…

Note: Cooking time varies with bulb size. Also, the fennel’s optimal texture really is a matter of taste. As I mention in the voicethread on roasting fennel (the link appears in Step #1 below), my husband prefers it soft, whereas my son and I like it crisp-tender. You should try it both ways…

Special Note: This recipe was ranked #7 on the Foodbuzz Top 9 on Friday, November 20, 2009.

Fennel with Garlic and Parsley

  • 4 medium fennel bulbs, about 1 ½ pounds, stalks trimmed, fronds reserved
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish if desired
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Halve the fennel bulbs lengthwise and remove the cores. Place the cut sides of each bulb together and wrap each bulb tightly in a foil packet. Arrange the packets on a baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until it is crisp-tender, or longer if a softer texture is desired. Wearing protective gloves, transfer them to a cool baking sheet and open the packets completely to stop the cooking. When the fennel is cool enough to handle, drain well and cut each half lengthwise into ⅓-inch slices. (Do not be concerned if the layers of the slices separate.)
  2. Chop 2 tablespoons of fennel fronds and set aside.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the oil in a little pool. D0 not spread it around. When it is hot, add the garlic and parsley to the pool and cook about 1 minute, gently stirring to coat without dispersing the pool.  When the garlic mixture becomes fragrant, spread it over the entire skillet and add the fennel. Season to taste with salt and pepper and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring and tossing often, until the fennel is lightly browned. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the chopped fronds or parsley if using. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: Calories 71, 3 g total fat, trace saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 12 g total carbohydrate, 5 g dietary fiber, 2 g protein, 82 mg sodium.


  • October 27 2009, 8:58 PM
    Doctor Larry

    Great picture, great taste.

  • November 20 2009, 11:57 AM
    Georgie Fear

    Wow! I’ll admit to never trying fennel before, but now that you’ve explained SO clearly how to do it - I’m inspired to give it a try!

    I love the video lesson on foil roasting, and it must work well with other veggies too!

    GREAT post! -
    Georgie Fear RD

  • November 25 2009, 11:50 AM

    This is such a gorgeous fennel dish. I would love it if you would submit the recipe to our December’s BATTLE FENNEL and participate in the fun!

    Please click here for more details: http://tiny.cc/ySuy6

  • March 9 2010, 1:07 PM

    “You’re kidding”.

    That was my “sous chef” hubby’s response when I told him the foil wrapped fennel had no olive oil added in that roasting step.

    “Wow, this is probably the best cooked fennel we’ve ever had.”

    That was my hubby’s assessment as he enjoyed the finished dish (along with the pork tenderloin with port sauce from the recipe also published on this site.) And that’s high praise for the recipe given his Italian heritage and having eaten a lot of fennel during his life time. (Finocchio is what his family calls this lovely veggie.)

    After 25 minutes of foil roasting the texture of the bulbs was just right and the flavor so intensified that the slightly cooled fennel then sliced and sauteed as per the next step was fantabulous fennelness! :-)

    What is also great about this recipe is you can take it up to the step of slicing the cooled roasted fennel in advance then finishing off the dish at the pooled oil saute step right before serving. This is a new add to our “keeper” and “go to” file.

    For fennel fans, as good as this was, raw fennel used to dip in the Roquefort dip that was published at this site was almost as good. We highly recommendry that dip recipe with raw fennel for fennel fans too!

  • March 9 2010, 3:04 PM

    I am a very lucky blogger indeed to have visitors who really get what I’m doing and trying to do. Thanks so much for your generous comments. I hope they will inspire others to try these recipes. I think there are some special ones lying around this website and this is one of my all-time favorites. My son will even eat the fennel cold, standing in the fridge with the door wide open!
    P.S. The fennel makes a very interesting and lively accompaniment to the pork tenderloin with port wine. I often serve them together.

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