Fennel is a lovely vegetable. The fresh licorice like flavor and the nice crunch can revitalize your soul like a cool glass of arak on a hot summer day. From my childhood I know it mostly fresh, sliced and soaked in lemon juice. Bish-Bash, it was called. Here in the old continent, when it’s snowing outside, you don’t always want something fresh though. So fennel is cooked, which steal most of its unique qualities. So I thought about a middle way – to serve it warm and yet light and crunchy.
While grilling it in your home baking oven, with no fan and on maximum heat, thus having them grilled from the outside and still half-crunchy and full of fresh licorice flavor on the inside.
So, take your fennels and cut them to 6 if they are small or 8 if they are big, and most important – lengthwise only. Like that, the pieces will remain together while seasoning penetrate between the layers. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and if you want you can also add whole mustard seeds. Shake well and place over baking paper. Bake for 25 minutes in a pre-heated oven on 250 degrees. In the half way, brush the fennel with the remaining sauce. The sugars in the balsamic will caramelize and give the fennel a nice sweet-sour glaze.
To make a complete meal out of it, make a quick masabacha, the warm non mashed version of hummus, but from lentils rather than chickpeas. Take 1/2 cup of cooked lentils while they are still hot, mix with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and coriander. Place in a saucer, and arrange the fennel pieces on top.