Thursday, April 5, 2012

Frilly and flavorful

I think I have a reputation as The Produce Whisperer in the grocery stores. Complete strangers come up to me and ask what different vegetables in the case are, how do I prepare it , what does it taste like and so forth. Three possible things cause this-1. I look like I like to eat 2. I do not look like a psycho killer or 3. I look like I might be going to the grocery store to pick up more than food.  The third is most unlikely, the second needs to be remedied perhaps . It is most likely the first. I have a look that says I am fed, content and not likely to eat living persons who approach me. I don't have that stringy meat look about me that says I have wasted too many meals on tofu or high fiber, low fat, taste free meals and perhaps understand how to make food taste good. I'm down with that !

One veggie that a lot of people ask me about is my good friend, Florence. As in Fennel ! It is fairly common in the grocery stores today, but many people have no idea what to do with it or how it tastes.I always think that if anyone wants to get serious about addressing the whole "eat healthy, lose weight" thing they would insist that grocery stores label the produce with ideas on how to use them, place recipe cards close by with useful ideas and offer free samples to taste instead of the free samples of lab experiments being passed off as food they currently offer.Imagine an experience at a Sam's club with several free samples of the produce instead  of yet another microwavable thing or "nutritional" bar or chemistry experiment/ baked good ( read the labels, kids). Do that and people may actually eat more veggies. Like Miss Florence.
 She's a beauty , White, curvy rump, straight neck and a riot of delicate, light green hair. She tastes like a stalk of celery spent too much time munching on black licorice ( perhaps that explains her very curvy bottom). She is a user friendly bulb that will happily join the party in a salad , a flavoring component like onions or as a roast veggie. Roasting brings out the sweetness of any veggie, and in the case of ole Florence, she becomes wonderfully sweetened , like a grilled onion with deeper flavor notes that remind you of anise. She makes a lovely complement to fish, and an outright happening party in the following dish

Finocchi al forno con pomodorini

2 bulbs fennel, trimmed of stalks and fronds, sliced thin
(you can eat these, but for even sized pieces with roasting, remove)
2 red onions, sliced in thin moons
1 pint grape tomatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper

Spread all veggies on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes, or till tomatoes wrinkle. Serve hot.

It makes me giggle when I think about how people will ask me how to prepare a vegetable, but leave me alone when I get to the meat case. It seems everyone knows how to make a roast, but vegetables intimidate people. Perhaps it is because we have few items of canned meat and way too many canned or pre-mixed , pre frozen veggies. Because of this "user friendly" state of things, the skill set for cooking veggies has perhaps been lost ?


Gori Chori said...

I never realized fennel was so sexy. You have intrigued me, and now I just *have* to meet her. Another awesome post, Ms. Di !!

Di said...

Yes, fennel is sexy :-) I think any perfectly ripe veggie is sexy- it excites our senses and makes us want to not simply know the food but experience it.

Dutch said...

I have never tried fennel. I should try to grow it this year.

Di said...

I am not really sure about the growing specifics, but I believe it can be grown in this zone- it would be a wonderful thing to have on hand in a garden !