I've been trying lots of new foods and recipes the past few weeks, and most of them have been quite good, but not meeting the toddler-friendly goal of my blog. I didn't have high hopes for tonight's meal, but we were all more than pleasantly surprised with this one! I tackled our giant bulb of fennel that came in our CSA.
Fennel is something that I've never really had any interest in cooking because, raw, it tastes like black licorice. Yuck. I don't know how anyone actually enjoys black jellybeans, or Good and Plenty's, but I do know that I definitely don't want my dinner to taste like them.
But...since I'm still working on using our veggies and trying new things, I took a chance and tried a Caramelized Fennel Pizza tonight. I made a pizza crust from the "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" book (which I will be blogging on soon, this book is awesome!), and here's how I prepared the topping:
Cut off the green stalks and fronds of the fennel. According to my favorite new food bible, "How to Cook Everything" (thanks, Chris!!), you can save these for garnish, or just compost/trash them. (I don't know many people, especially mom's, who ever garnish a dinner...ours went in the compost. :) )
Cut off the bottom of the white bulb, slice thin, and then chop coarsely.
Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan, add fennel, 1/2 c. sliced scallions (also from our CSA!), and a few shakes each of oregano, thyme, and black pepper.
Cook on med/high heat, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes until they darken and get all caramelized.
Cover pizza crust with a thin layer of sauce, sprinkle cooked veggies on top, and dot with hunks of fresh mozzarella (goat cheese would have been even better, I think, but Lainey doesn't like it...I may bake one of each next time!). Bake at 375° for about 20 minutes, until crust is golden.
Once it was caramelized, the fennel didn't really taste licorice-y...I can't really describe the flavor. It was just delicious, and not like anything I've had before. We call things like this "make-again good".
On the side, I made a batch of kale chips with the large bunch of kale that was also in our CSA. This is probably the fifth time I've made kale chips, and every time Lainey tries them she quickly decides that she doesn't like them. She didn't want to try them tonight, but I told her that sometimes we have to try things a few times before we can really tell if we like them or not, so she agreed, and LOVED them. She had several helpings before dinner was even out of the oven. :) Woohoo!