Monday, February 14, 2011

In love with Fennel

Valentine's day has come and gone, but while we're on the subject of LOVE, let's talk about Fennel.
Along with most of my favorite foods, fennel originates in the land of lovers, the Mediterranean. In ancient Greece it was called marathon and it's stalk was used by Prometheus to steal fire from the gods and give it to mankind.

Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) is a hardy perennial. In southern California it is considered an invasive, non-native plant; you may have seen this wild sister growing along roadsides near the coast with her intensely aromatic fruit waving her feathery fronds- coarse & unrefined without any hipped up bulb.

At Rio Gozo Farm we grow one of the cultivars of Florence Fennel - known for its white swollen bulb that can be braised, sautéed, grilled, or made into a gratin; however, let's not neglect fennel's other fine attributes. The seeds (or fruit) smell like anise and are often used as a flavoring in Italian meatballs or enjoyed as a breath freshener after Indian food. The leaves can be used in teas or tossed in salads while the stems are good juiced or used in stocks. Fennel pollen is a specialty food and I hope it makes its way into the share. Gozo farmers are more than happy to start a fennel renaissance through Rio Gozo Farm Ventura CSA. Who's in?
It's going to be a marathon, get your fennel fires ready!
My favorite fennel recipe is a fennel gratin from Alice Water's book Chez Panisse Vegetables.
There are a lot of fennel gratin recipes on the web, try a few.
-how could you go wrong with caramelized vegetables baked with cream and browned with parmesan and breadcrumbs?

Click here for more information on fennel with recipes

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Community Supported Agriculture

Support Locally Grown Food

There is plenty of gozo at Rio Gozo Farm. That is JOY in Spanish and joy is one of the most dependable products we have. Gozo is commonly found in gardens and farms. Once you get a little gozo up and going it is very tolerant of most pests, withstands dry periods, and grows with a modicum of fertilizer. After gozo becomes a staple of one's diet, it goes with about anything. Actually folks crave it so much it is a wonder everyone does not have a patch of it growing close at hand. Grab up some gozo and get with the flow.