Fall in love with fennel with this Easy Braised Fennel Recipe. This simple fennel dish is just the elegant and tasty side dish recipe that’s perfect for a holiday dinner or a simple weeknight.
Large fennel bulbs are cut into wedges, and braised in vegetable broth for one of the tastiest side dishes out there. You’ll love how they’re caramelized and sweet with incredible flavor…a whole new level of deliciousness.
Why you’ll love this Fennel Dish
- Healthy cooking method.
- The finished dish has a mildly sweet flavor, shedding that licorice taste.
- Simple recipe with wholesome ingredients.
- Gorgeous presentation….the perfect Side Dish for Thanksgiving.
- Easy recipe with incredible flavor.
- Made on the stovetop for those times when oven space is at a premium.
What is Fennel?
- Fennel is actually a perennial herb, in the carrot family.
- Fennel has a white layered bulb, with green stalks and dill-like fronds.
- Raw fennel has a strong licorice flavor, similar to anise seeds. It is often served as a palate cleanser.
- Fennel can caramelize and become sweet when cooked, similar to onions.
- Fennel seeds are similar to anise seeds, but have a milder flavor and are less sweet.
- It’s low in calories, high in fiber, potassium, vitamin C. Fennel seeds are also high in Manganese
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Fennel: This would also work with thick wedges of onions.
- Broth: I use homemade vegetable stock. If you buy a box from the grocery store, be sure to read the label and if it contains salt, reduce or omit the salt in the recipe.
- Olive oil
- White wine: Beer works well too…and the alcohol will burn off. If you don’t use alcohol, substitute with a rice wine vinegar, or even lemon juice…as you will need the acid to deglaze the pan.
- Miso: Helps build flavor, especially if you’re used to chicken stock. Dijon mustard would also work well.
- Herbs and Spices: Fresh thyme is my preference, but oregano or rosemary would be good too.
What does it mean to braise vegetables?
Braising is a cooking method often used for meat, but works beautifully on vegetables too. The vegetables are partially submerged into liquid and slowly cooked on the stove or in the oven as the flavors of the vegetables and the liquid merge.
Fennel can be a bit tough and braising allows even the tough core to become soft and tender, and it brings out the complex flavors too.
How to prepare fennel
Fennel can sometimes hold dirt between the layers. I usually brush the outside with a loofah and then wait to wash it until after it’s cut, so I can get between the layers.
Step 1: Cut a VERY thin sliver off the root end to remove the dirty part. Then cut off long stalk and fronds.
Step 2: Cut in half down through the center core.
Step 3: Cut each fennel half into 4-5 wedges. Leave a piece of the core intact to hold each wedge together.
Step 4: Thinly slice the lighter colored part of the stalk, set aside and then roughly chop the fronds to set aside as garnish.
How to make it
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. I like to use a cast iron because it conducts even heat throughout.
Swirl olive oil into the hot pan. Arrange fennel wedges in a single layer. You may have to do this in two batches. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
Leave wedges undisturbed for a couple of minutes, until golden brown. Use tongs to turn over and repeat with the other side.
Remove fennel pieces as they’re finished, continuing with remaining fennel until it’s all been browned.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the garlic and sliced stalks. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Whisk the miso into the broth and pour into the pan. Mix well.
There should be enough liquid to partially cover the fennel. If not, add more vegetable broth. Spread the thyme sprigs over the vegetables.
Reduce to a gentle heat that will keep a simmer. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Cooking time will vary, depending on how thick slices of fennel are.
Garnish with fennel fronds and serve warm or at room temperature.
Arrange braised fennel onto a platter. Spoon some of the garlic and stalks onto the fennel.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- After plating the fennel wedges, if remaining sauce is too thin, cook over medium heat to thicken. If sauce is too thick, whisk in a bit more broth.
- Drizzle just a bit of the sauce over the fennel, pass the rest in a bowl.
- Fennel bulbs will shrink as they cook, so even if they don’t fit in a single layer in your pan to begin with, they likely will when you put them back to braise.
- Make in advance and gently reheat, covered in foil, in a 350 oven for 15 minutes.
- Encourage those who say they don’t like fennel to try this….no licorice flavor!
Did you know commenting and rating recipes is one of the best ways to support your favorite food bloggers? If you made this recipe, please consider a five star rating below and leave a comment. Also, please share your photos on instagram by tagging me @dkhealthcoach and using the hashtag #debraklein
- 3 Bulbs Fennel
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tblsp white wine vinegar
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon light miso
- 4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
- Prep Fennel: Cut a very thin sliver off the dirty bottom. Then trim stalks and fronts from the bulb. Thinly slice the lighter part of the stalk and set aside separately from the fronds. Cut each bulb through the center. Then cut each half into wedges with a portion of the core in each wedge to hold it together. You will get 8-10 wedges per bulb, depending on how large they are.
- Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in the olive oil and add fennel wedges in a single layer. You may have to do this in two batches. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use tongs to flip after first side is brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a dish as they're finished. Continue until all fennel wedges have been seared.
- Add the garlic and sliced fennel stalks and cook, stirring constantly until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Whisk miso into the broth and then add to the pan. Bring to a simmer, while stirring.
- Return the fennel to the pan, on top of the liquid. There should be enough room for all the fennel in one layer now. Top with thyme sprigs. Turn the heat down to simmer on low, cover and let steam for 20 minutes. Fennel should be super tender when pierced with a fork, sweet and caramelized.
- Remove fennel wedges to a plate. Leave pan on stove and let sauce thicken for a minute. Spoon a bit sauce over the fennel, and pour the rest into a small dish. Garnish with the fronds and/or some fresh thyme leaves.