Monday, February 09, 2009

Fennel and Pizza

I often buy vegetables that I've never cooked with because I think they're a.) weird, b.) I've heard they're delicious, or c.)they are cheap and look pretty. Fennel fell into the weird category. I've never really heard much of it and, besides fennel seed, have never cooked with it. So when the co-op had fennel bulbs on sale, I snatched one up.

Now that I had this freaky, alien vegetable in my fridge, what was I going to do with it? I had gobs of recipes that involved fennel; however, they wanted more than one bulb. I didn't want to buy more until I knew if I even liked the flavor of fennel. So what on earth could I do with my single fennel bulb? And I'd best decide quick before the thing rotted in my fridge!

That's when one of my favorite cooking blogs came to mind. Aha! I thought. Heidi will know. So I meandered over to 101 Cookbooks and punched fennel into the search engine. Several recipes popped up, but this one caught my eye: pizza with caramelized fennel. Well, one bulb would be more than enough for a pizza, so I followed her directions and caramelized my fennel. It smelled amazing cooking in a splash of olive oil, and when I added some potatoes and minced garlic, the aroma was heavenly.

My pizza crust (yes, homemade) was topped with a coat of citrus/regular olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then a layer of sliced tomatoes, fresh spinach. Then I piled on the caramelized fennel slices and thinly sliced potato, put some mozzarella cheese on top, another dash of salt and pepper, and a few rings of purple onions. Popped in the oven, and 15 minutes later, I was munching on a delicious pizza concoction.

For me, pizzas are best with lots of veggies, olive oil instead of sauce, and just enough cheese to hold all the toppings on. This fennelled dish met all my requisites of great pizza, and I anticipate eating more of it tomorrow. It just goes to show what can happen when you let yourself try something new and unusual, and are willing to experiment with flavors and ingredients.

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