Fine as Fennel Fronds
As noted recently, Lonnie Wilson at Hoot Owl Holler Farm persuaded me past my Fear of Fennel. He advised using the tender parts of the white bulbs in salads or roasted vegetable medleys, and draping the fronds over salmon while grilling. I tried both, and began making friends with a new garden-fresh flavor.
I still felt fennel's foreignness when I faced a particular bulb, knife in hand. Where to begin? How to be a skilled veggie butcher?
The New York Times's Melissa Clark fixed that problem in two minutes with How to cut up fennel, her fearless video. Watching it, I realized fennel, like leeks—another green and white veggie that's only now becoming a regular in American kitchens—comes with parts that aren't meant to arrive at the dinner table unchanged. With both fennel and leeks, some fibrous parts need to be dedicated to stock-making or to your backyard chickens.
Fennel's anise-y, licorice flavors grow in appeal the more I eat this seasonal veg. Try it this weekend. If the weather is cool enough for braising, Martha Stewart's Skillet-Braised Fennel is a wonder. For one more source of beautiful inspiration, enjoy The Yellow House's beautiful online book of five real, weeknight, practical dinners, including the Wednesday meal: "A salad of fennel, radish, egg and soft cheese."