Carmelized fennel root

They say that people either love licorice or hate it, and the licorice battleground happens to fall right through the middle of our household. Since fennel has what I would describe as a licorice flavor, I’ve never been a big fan. But this recipe, which I’m blatantly, um, borrowing from renowned Israeli chef Rafael Cohen, made me love fennel — at least, so long as its caramelized in butter and sugar.

The preparation is quite easy — basically, you’re steaming the fennel, sliced open and lying in a pool of butter and sugar, until its soft, and the underside has turned a caramelized brown. It’s also perfect for spring, because what better way to enjoy the season than to sink your teeth into a juicy green vegetable?

I should probably mention that I found huge, beautiful organic fennel roots at the Tel Aviv Farmer’s Market at the port, which is now being institutionalized with its very own building there.

This works with leek, too.

For two servings:

1 large fennel root
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
butter for frying (±1-2 tablespoons)
6-7 saffron threads (this was in the original recipe, but in my opinion, it’s optional)

Slice the fennel in half, rinse out any dirt and place the halves cut-side down in a big pot, along with the other ingredients. Heat on a low flame until the fennel is soft, about 40 minutes. If the water boils off, add a bit more, so the fennel (and caramel) won’t burn.

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