While fennel can be served raw, sliced for salads or crudités, it can also be roasted with root vegetables or winter squashes for a filling and colorful side dish. If you add roasted chickpeas or serve over a bed of farro it makes a complete meal.
Preheat oven 375 degrees F
- Fennel – 4 cups diced
- Fennel fronds – 1 T minced
- Butternut squash – 4 cups cubed
Herbs & Spices
- Garlic cloves – 4 minced
- Grated lemon peel – 1 t
- Fresh ground coarse sea salt and peppercorns to taste
If you’re brave and like it spicy try High5’s Mountain Mama’s Gritty Herb Mix. Combine the following in a pepper/herb grinder:
- Himalayan pink rock salt – 1 T
- Coarse sea salt crystals – 2 T
- black and red peppercorns – 3 T
- mustard seeds – 1 T
- coriander seeds – 1 T
- roasted onion flakes – 2 T
- roasted garlic flakes – 1 T
- Chili Pepper flakes – 1 T
- Dried Lemon Peel – 1 T
- Extra virgin olive oil – 1 T
- Wash butternut squash and score (I generally score 4 times). Place squash whole in oven on parchment-lined baking pan. While squash is cooking, wash and core fennel. Thinly slice fennel and set aside.
- Mince garlic.
- Remove butternut squash from oven. It should be firm. Run under cool water (easier to handle),
cut in half lengthwise then cut in one inch sections. Peel and cube. Save seeds and extra squash (refrigerate or freeze) for preparing mashes or soups later in the week.
- In large bowl combine squash, fennel and olive oil. Mix thoroughly and transfer to baking pan, spread evenly and bake for ten minutes.
- Add minced garlic and herbs to fennel-squash, stir and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes or until butternut squash is done.
- Garnish with fennel fronds, grated lemon peel, a twist or two of fresh ground coarse sea salt and fresh ground peppercorns.
The Scoop – The perfect ingredient
Most of you already know why I always buy extra virgin olive oil from California. I prefer local, California has some of the best quality olive oils in the world (several from the Foothills) and tests conducted at the University of Davis discovered that almost 70% of olive oils from Europe failed to meet extra virgin standards or were adulterated while 9 out of 10 California olive oils met these standards. Sources: UCD report; and It’s not Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Once I discovered you could roast winter squashes and pumpkins whole—without cutting them—they became a staple at the ranch. They’re much easier to work with this way. Simply score the squash in quarters and place on a baking pan (lined with parchment for easy clean-up) in 375° F oven for 20 to 60 minutes—the time depends on how firm I want the squash and how big the squash is. A 5 lb squash is generally tender and ready to mash in 60 minutes.
For this recipe, I will roast the squash just before it reaches “al dente” (firm but not hard) because I am going to cube it and bake it again with the fennel.
I also use this method when I’m going to freeze squash or use it in dishes that require additional cooking time such as stir fry, soups or stuffings.
Mountain Mama’s Gritty Herb Mix
There is no better way to add flavor then fresh herbs and spices or freshly ground herbs and spices. Because I don’t need the extra calories from fat, I generally minimize the amount of fat I use and maximize the herbs and spices. In addition to using less fat, this also allows me to use less salt without compromising flavor.
Over the next few months I will post several herb and spice combinations–some subtle, some spicy and hot but all are made from combinations of whole seeds, peppercorns, flakes, dried peels etc, which when freshly ground using an old hand-held pepper grinder really add taste to a dish.
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