This is the case of braised fennels, a recipe from the cucina povera (lit. poor cooking) Italian tradition that gets a boost from lemon zest – a sour, unexpected note that marries perfectly with the mildly sweet flavor of cooked fennel – and, of course, the right serving vessel.
Despite fennels being an unusual choice in the US – far from the "everyday veggies" that are broccoli or green beans – this Mediterranean vegetable known as finocchio has been used for centuries in Italy. In the peninsula, we like to serve fennel on its own – raw, sliced in a fresh salad with vibrant citrus segments and briny black olives – as a side dish – cooked to accompany pork, chicken, sausage and lamb – or as an ingredient in hearty soups (minestrone) and stews.
Intrigued? Look for fresh, plump mid-sized fennels and bring them home to try our simple and delicious braised fennel recipe.