Oh fennel, how I adore thee! If you aren't familiar with fennel I suggest you check out the cooking lesson below so that you too can become hooked on fennel. It is tasty and amazing. So, of course, why not throw it on a grilled cheese to bring those gourmet grown up flavors to the children's classic! Let's face it, slather most things in cheese and they will be divine! Lunch, dinner, or even mini ones as an appetizer, this grilled cheese is sure to elevate the classic into a crowd pleaser.
1 bulb of fennel, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
4 oz fontina cheese, shredded
8 slices sourdough bread (you could really just use whatever bread you want, but I prefer using something a bit fancier for my grilled cheese like artisan breads)
1. Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium high heat. Saute the fennel for 7-10 minutes until it softens up. Add salt and pepper as it cooks, to taste.
2. Prepare the bread by buttering one side of each slice.
3. Compile the sandwich with a slice of bread on bottom (buttered side on the outside), a layer of cheese, a layer of cooked fennel, another layer of cheese, and anther bread slice on top.
4. Cook over medium heat, flipping halfway through. Sandwich will be done when bread is browned and cheese is melted and gooey.
I am just torn whether to talk about the art of grilled cheese making in this cooking lesson or to talk about the amazingness of fennel. I suppose you'll just have to stay tuned for all my grilled cheese secrets because I'm going to take this opportunity to suck you in to the world of fennel.
First, you should know that all parts of the fennel are edible, not just the bulb. Bulb, stalks, leaves, and seeds.
Second, you should know that fennel is super good for you. It has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It is loaded with vitamin C so it is great for your immune system. It is a good source of fiber which can help lower your cholesterol and is great for your heart. It is a good source of potassium which helps lower blood pressure so count that too. Oh, and it might help prevent colon cancer!
Third, it tastes good! In fact, it tastes like a classic and popular candy: licorice. It can be eaten in tons of different ways.
How to pick one out? They are found in your produce section. It is related to carrots which means I usually see it over by the carrots and celery, but your store could be weird. Check out the bulb and make sure it is clean, has no splits spots or bruises, and is whitish or pale green. The stalks and leaves should be green. If there are flowering buds then it is past maturity. It should have the licorice smell.
How to store it? Put it in the drawer in your refrigerator. That drawer is called a crisper. It'll stay good in there for about 3-4 days.
How to cook it? It can be sauteed, roasted, used in a soup, or eaten raw. For a really quick and super healthy side dish just saute some onions and fennel in a little extra virgin olive oil, add salt and pepper and you are good to go.
If you have any questions about fennel go ahead and ask in the comments section. I'm more than happy to help you add this amazing vegetable to your diet!