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Fennel, Funny People and Things That Make You Go “Hmmm.” - Lamb Rack With Roasted Fennel Petals

Fennel is one of those “love it or hate it” kind of veggies - like Brussels Sprouts or mushrooms. But I’ve always loved it. I’ve used the fronds for pesto and in salads, but mainly I roast the petals this way.

I did wonder if I’d been missing out on some unique new way of using fennel, so I went out on Google for a moment, only to laugh my way through sites that claim that fennel can make your breasts grow - and with the right exercise - in only two days. Another reason why we need to take our neighbors’ advice about COVID with a grain of salt - we’re all experts in our own minds, hmmm?

While I wasn’t looking for any help in the vegetal breast augmentation arena, I began to wonder if I might find some Brussels sprouts recipe that would bring my pants size down a few notches. And with the right exercise, in only two days.

As you can imagine, I was not successful, but I’m still trying.

Fennel is a great veg, even if you don’t like “anise” type flavors. I made my daughter a believer - it gets really sweet and a little smoky when roasted and is a great side dish. I served it alongside lamb this time. But this is good anytime.



INGREDIENTS

2 fennel bulbs (thick base of stalk), stalks cut off - save the fronds

2 tablespoons (or more) of extra virgin olive oil

Parmesan Cheese, grated

METHOD

Preheat oven to 400.

Pull the petals off the fennel bulb and toss with the olive oil.

Spread them out on parchment on a baking sheet or a non-stick pan

Sprinkle Parmesan on top of the petals and place in the oven.

Roast for 40 minutes or until the fennel wedges are cooked through and beginning to caramelize at the edges.


INGREDIENTS

1 head of garlic cloves peeled

1/4 cup fennel fronds

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 racks of lamb

Salt and freshly ground pepper


METHOD

Preheat the oven to 450.

In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic, fennel fronds and olive oil and process until the garlic is finely chopped. Season the lamb racks with salt and pepper and rub the garlic-fennel oil all over them. Set the racks fat side up on a large rimmed baking sheet or cast iron pan and let stand for 1 hour (See picture, middle bottom).

Roast the lamb in the upper third of the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the racks and roast for 10 minutes longer for medium-rare meat. Transfer the racks to a carving board, stand them upright and let rest for 10 minutes.

Carve the racks in between the rib bones and transfer to plates, on top of some of the garlic mixture. Serve right away.

My oenophile friends will laugh me away from the table, but there is a white blend out there called Conundrum. I used to love it so much with Summer dishes until they changed it in 2009 and I wrote it a “Dear Wine” letter. But the 2016 is pretty good. Don’t believe the glowing write-ups about it - it is what it is - a decent, very light blend that can hover a little on the sweet side, but is easy-drinking, part Viognier, and goes great with this dish.

I wonder how it will pair with those pant-size reducing Brussels sprout recipes?


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