Each week, I browse my many recipe reservoirs for that week’s dinner inspiration—Pinterest, Half Baked Harvest, cookbooks, you get the idea. Knowing that I’d have a short work and cooking week (hi, vacation!), I panicked when I realized I didn’t have a plan for the blog.
Luckily, NYT Cooking, easily my most “adventurous” recipe reservoir, hosts a wealth of picky-eater-blog inspiration.
Looking for an easy new ingredient to try, and to take advantage of my picky boyfriend getting dinner on his own that night, I made Martha Rose Shulman’s fennel rice recipe.
More accurately, I made fennel farro, opting for a higher-protein grain for this vegetarian dinner. Since I know fennel seeds are a predominant flavor in Italian sausage (one of my favorite proteins), I was excited to get to know the root of that flavor more.
After staring at my fennel bulb for a solid 5 minutes wondering where to start and then watching a quick YouTube video of how to prep fennel, I got to work on sautéing it with some onions and garlic and simmering my farro.
I also swapped the recipe’s fresh dill for some of the fennel fronds in the broth—partly to maximize my fennel exposure and partly because I was still bitter about how much dill I wound up wasting making tzatziki a couple weeks ago.
This was not bad at all. I ate more than my fill and was happy to have made a healthy, satisfying meal.
I added some red pepper flakes for a little spice and enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day (any dinner that doubles as a healthy leftover lunch is a winner in my book). I bet a little lemon juice would be yummy in this as well.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t discern a strong fennel flavor from the dish, and having never had it before, I don’t know if that’s because it’s so mild or because of the cooking method. I definitely wasn’t picking up any of the flavors of Italian sausage.
Commenters on the original recipe recommended cooking your grain separately from the fennel sauté, but I decided to stick to the recipe on my first try (adding the farro and water directly to the sauté to simmer together).
Next time, I’ll take the commenters’ advice as I suspect that keeping the fennel sautéed without then simmering it in broth might capture more of its natural flavor. I’d also like to try a different kind of fennel recipe to get to know its flavor better…now that I know it’s not disgusting, of course.
If it was another week, I would’ve squeezed a second fennel dish somewhere into my menu #fortheblog, but I will be way too busy
sun-bathing burning in Myrtle Beach to be thinking about fennel! Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @thepickyeaterchronicles how I should try cooking this veggie next, and I promise to come back to it after my time in the sun!