Roasted Fennel

published Nov 24, 2021
Roasted Fennel Recipe

This tender roasted fennel boasts the most delicious caramelized edges.

Serves4 to 6

Prep5 minutes

Cook50 minutes to 55 minutes

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Roasted fennel in a bowl, garnished.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman, Food Styling: Duncan Fitzpatrick

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Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables to cook with. In the summer, I shave it raw into salads and throw it on the grill. In the fall and winter, I love adding it to crispy-creamy gratins and mixing it into Thanksgiving stuffing (I’m famous in my family for that one). But one of my very favorite ways to enjoy fennel in the colder months is also the easiest to prepare, and that’s simply roasting it with olive oil and seasonings.

What Does Roasted Fennel Taste Like?

Fennel in its raw form is slightly sweet and crunchy, with a light anise-licorice flavor. But when fennel is roasted and caramelized, it transforms into a tender, savory side dish. In fact, I’ve found that people who don’t enjoy fennel in its raw form love it cooked. The licorice flavors take a back seat after roasting.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman, Food Styling: Duncan Fitzpatrick

What’s the Best Way to Roast Fennel?

I based my roasted fennel recipe off a method I learned while working at Nougatine, sister restaurant to the acclaimed Jean-Georges. I ate the best fennel I’ve ever had while working there, and I wanted to bring that experience to you.

At Nougatine, the chefs roasted the fennel in a covered hotel pan with fats like olive and butter and special seasonings. Roasting it covered locked in moisture, giving the fennel a tender, buttery interior. Then, they seared the roasted fennel in a skillet, which enhanced all the lovely flavors that were locked in during the roast. 

Here, I’ve simplified the method so all you have to do is roast it. You’ll start with it covered, roasting until knife-tender, then uncover it until the edges are caramelized, mimicking the sear.

What Should I Serve with Roasted Fennel?

I often eat this fennel straight from the baking sheet, but if I manage to resist, here’s how I like to serve it.

  • Alongside risotto, or chopped and stirred right in.
  • Chopped up and added to pasta dishes.
  • Layered onto a roasted winter veggie sandwiches.
  • Paired with goat cheese and a citrus vinaigrette, like they do at Jean-Georges.
  • Topped with Parmesan.

Roasted Fennel Recipe

This tender roasted fennel boasts the most delicious caramelized edges.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes to 55 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    large fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds)

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground fennel or ground anise (optional)

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1

    medium lemon

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF.

  2. Trim the stalks, fronds, and any browned edges from 2 large fennel bulbs. Reserve some fronds for garnish. Halve each fennel lengthwise through the root, then cut each half into 4 wedges.

  3. Transfer to a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel or anise if desired, and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes if desired. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon over the fennel. Toss with your hands until well-combined, then arrange the wedges cut-side down in a single layer.

  4. Cover the baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the wedges are knife-tender, about 25 minutes. Uncover and toss the fennel. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake uncovered until deep golden-brown in spots and the edges are caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes more. Meanwhile, cut the zested lemon in half.

  5. Juice one lemon half over the fennel (reserve the remaining half for another use) and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the reserved fennel fronds.

Recipe Notes

Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.