Some time ago, I mentioned finocchio as one of the elements of a traditional Italian appetizer called verdure in pinzimonio, which includes a selection of raw vegetables (carrots, celery, fennel, radishes, etc.) to be dipped into a sauce made of olive oil, salt and pepper, and possibly vinegar or lemon juice. Each guest gets his or her own small plate of sauce.
Growing up, I ate fennel salad often, the bulb cut into bite-size pieces and seasoned with the usual combination of oil, vinegar and salt. You can slice the fennel thinly instead: I like the bite-size version, because each morsel causes a little explosion of flavor in your mouth. Sometimes my mother would serve fennel cut vertically into 6 or 8 sections at the end of a meal, to be eaten plain: its crisp flavor is quite refreshing. I didn't know that finocchio is called Florence fennel here.
Until recently, my favorite way of eating cooked fennel was au gratin. Then, to the old preference a new one was added: Fennel and Leek Soup with Fennel Greens (zuppa di finocchi e porri con foglie di finocchio) a dish that has become an instant hit in the household. The recipe comes from my beloved Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. In it, Madison suggests to use the trimmings from its ingredients to make Quick (vegetable) Stock, something I recommend doing, because the result is a deeply flavored soup that will enchant your palate. I ended up making more stock than I needed for the soup, so I froze the rest, which means I have a little stash for future use.
I followed both recipes to the letter, halving the quantity of the ingredients for the soup and substituting the cream (which in any case is optional) with some of my own cheese, freshly grated. The thinly sliced fennel and potato and the chopped leek and onion form a great quartet of flavors, with the vegetable stock providing the background and the fennel greens a tasty decoration.
This post is my contribution to the current edition of Fresh Produce of the Month, an event created by my friend Marta, An Italian in the US. You have a few days left to send your fennel-flavored ideas to Marta.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the finocchio audio file [mp3].
Anche nella mia famiglia è diffusa l'abitudine di gustare il finoccchio a fine pasto per una paicevole freschezza :-))
Posted by: lenny | April 23, 2009 at 01:07 PM
Hi Simona! We call this "fin-oik".
Oh how we love to mess up the proper Italian language! haha
Posted by: maryann | April 23, 2009 at 01:08 PM
I just cooked with some fennel the other day~it is a wonderful veggie!
Posted by: jann | April 23, 2009 at 02:01 PM
Very nice! I didn't know it was called Florence fennel either. Thank you so much for taking part to the event!!!!
Posted by: Marta | April 23, 2009 at 04:26 PM
The soup sounds lovel;y, so fresh and vibrant. Great with your cheese on top too.
Posted by: Lori Lynn | April 23, 2009 at 05:31 PM
Ohhh Thank you so much for reminding me the delight of fennel!Im now dying to try this really lovely recipe aswell as returning to the fresh salad for warmer days to come! Grazie!
Posted by: mia | April 24, 2009 at 06:18 AM
Very nice. I like fennel, though I don't eat it a lot.
Posted by: Paz | April 24, 2009 at 05:02 PM
Ciao Lenny. Che bello sapere che certe abitudini piacevoli sono diffuse.
That is so cute, Maryann.
Indeed, it is Jann.
You are welcome, Marta: it is always fun.
It is very nice, Lori Lynn and you are right: the color is vibrant.
Prego, Mia. Where I live, we get cool evenings in the summer when a nice soup is perfect.
Posted by: Simona Carini | April 24, 2009 at 08:06 PM
ciao Simona...tutto bene in quel di SF e dintorni? zuppa di finocchio? non ne ho mai fatto una...sarà il caso di provare, ciaooo!
Posted by: astrofiammante | April 25, 2009 at 11:39 AM
Ciao Astro. Qui tutto bene, grazie. La zuppa di finocchio e' proprio buona: te la consiglio. Un abbraccio.
Posted by: Simona Carini | April 27, 2009 at 06:23 AM
Ah, fennel. Next to artichokes, it must just be my favorite vegetable. My favorite combination is with sweet oranges and salty olives.
Posted by: Susan from Food Blogga | April 27, 2009 at 07:49 AM
Fennel... the forgotten veg in our house. I love it - when I think of buying it, particularly in summer. It goes so well with barbecued foods... I think they hide it at the markets....
Posted by: Katie | April 27, 2009 at 11:16 AM
Hi Susan. I also love artichokes and grew up eating them. I remember reading about this salad on your blog. My mother often makes a salad with oranges and olives: it is a delicious combination.
Hi Katie. Fennel with barbecued foods sounds great. I hope you can get the sellers at the market to share their bounty with you.
Posted by: Simona Carini | April 29, 2009 at 06:28 AM
I love sliced fennel, red onions, fresh tomatoes, and a vinaigrette of olive oil and wine vinegar. Salt and pepper as you like. It's so quick and easy and very pretty too. A perfect summer salad.
Posted by: lisa | March 25, 2015 at 11:08 AM
I completely agree, Lisa.
Posted by: Simona Carini | March 26, 2015 at 10:08 PM