Your palate will treasure the delights of Roasted Fennel, Garlic and Olives for its blending of sweet, aromatic and salty flavors.
Fennel is one of our most underrated vegetables. Popular in Mediterranean cuisine, it bears sweetness, aroma and herbal qualities that are incomparable to any other. When shopping for fennel, look for bulbs that are tight, with bright, light green stalks and a white bulb without bruises, cuts or splits. The stalks should be tight and straight, not splayed out, which indicates aging. The leaves too, should be solid green and fresh, without signs of drying. When cutting fennel for roasting, keep a portion of the root area intact on each wedge.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil for the roasting pan
- 4 small, (3-inch diameter), fennel bulbs, trimmed, each cut vertically into 8 wedges with core attached to each wedge
- 1/4 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 6 large garlic cloves, crushed
- coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 Cup halved pitted Kalamata, Cerignola or Gaeta olives
- Preheat oven to 425-degree F.
- Thoroughly spread a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Combine fennel, extra-virgin olive oil, thyme and crushed red pepper in large bowl; toss to coat all. Spread fennel out on baking sheet; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper.
- Roast the fennel for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Distribute the crushed garlic cloves over fennel wedges. Using tongs, turn wedges over, doing your best to bury the crushed garlic beneath the fennel wedges.
- Return the pan to the oven and roast until tender, turning one more time, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle olives over roasted fennel. Return to oven one more time. Roast until fennel begins to brown at edges, about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Season the fennel with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.
- This can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Serve warm or at room temperature. If preferred, this can also be made in a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan on the stove top, to caramelize the fennel. Just remember to stir, frequently to avoid burning. You want to make the fennel soft and golden, not burnt.