BVC Eats: Aromatic fennel, carrots, and onions

fennel

This vegetarian dish is delicately fragrant and mildly sweet with the natural sugars of fennel, carrots, onions, and orange juice. The smashed coriander seed and garlic give it heart. The butter and olive oil make it friendly to the palate. This is also a low-fat, low-carb option.

Fennel is an underrated root vegetable. When fresh, its flavor and aroma are intense yet restrained, a mysterious, enticing combination. Select fennel root that is white, unblemished by browning at the edges of the individual layers. The greens should be fresh, not blackening or wilted, and the cut-off tips not too shriveled. I use the root, greens, and stems in smoothies for a lightly sweet shot of leafy green veg.

This recipe calls for Vidalia onion, or any sweet onion. I’ve seen perfectly spherical onions sold as Vidalias, but that usually turns out to be a cruel hoax: those onions always taste more hot and bitter than a true sweet onion. Choose sweet onions with a slightly flattened look, like this one.

According to some sources, baby carrots are no longer whittled down from rejected larger carrots, but grown specifically for sale as baby carrots. I’m not terribly invested in the likelihood that this is true. It sounds like infomercial docu-factoidism on behalf of the United Carrot Growers Lobby or something. However, it’s up to you to vote with your dollar. I’m not fussy enough to care.

FENNEL, CARROTS & ONIONS

1 fennel bulb, sliced thin vertically. No stem or greens!
1 medium to small Vadalia onion, halved and sliced
3 medium carrots, sliced into ¼” coins
2 T or less fresh garlic, chopped and mashed
3 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 T whole coriander seeds, ground in a mortar
½ cup orange juice with some pulp

Put the coriander and garlic in a large heavy pan on high heat with the olive oil and butter. When sizzling, add the carrot slices. Stir to coat. Cover and cook 3-5 minutes until the carrots are half-cooked.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Cover. Cook 8-10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

Season with salt and pepper at the table. Serve as is, or over rice.

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