Box Blog: A July Fennel Festival
Updated: Aug 4, 2022
July's box was a plentiful representation of summer harvest, but with nothing that was new to me. This month's surprises were in the fennel, which isn't typically in season in July in the NYC area. Turns out there's nothing typical about fennel.
When I look at the list above, I don't see anything I can't get from the store. Sure, it's incomparably fresher, and the onions are different with their tops still on and that incredibly annoying dry peel absent, but otherwise, this was pretty standard fare. That's surprising - I have gotten used to something bewildering showing up in my box at least once a month. I've been doing this for over two years, so even the fennel no longer mystified me. I took this as a moment to deep dive into something, and I chose fennel. I was surprised.
The first surprise was the discovery that fennel is part of the carrot family. To be fair, many like-minded vegetables are in the same family (such as dill and celery). When I think about carrot tops, which could easily be seen as a cross between the feathery fronds of fennel and the broad green leaves of celery, the whole family starts to make sense. Fennel is originally a Mediterranean plant, but it is now grown everywhere. The entire plant is edible - the bulb, the stalks, the fronds, the flowers, and the fruit. Did you know it produced a fruit? Surprise number two. But that might be because we commonly refer to the fruit as "fennel seed." I will post a deep dive into fennel next week but for now, let's focus on recipes.
I loved Epicurious' delicious Lemon Fennel Egg Salad salad recipe last year, and neither it nor the Fennel Eggs Benedict recipe I developed inspired by it disappointed me the second time around. But they did stir my imagination. While trying to perfect the egg salad recipe, I discovered that the fennel fronds that tend to sit in the fridge until they wilt beyond enticement were delicious when mixed with egg yolks, lemon, garlic, and mayo. Fennel Deviled Eggs were born, but what to do with the bulb? I had heard roasted fennel was a favorite of many, so I roasted and learned. Pairing it with my favorite lemon honey salad dressing was an obvious choice, and the resulting quinoa salad was so flavorful that I was looking forward to work-from-home lunch all week. I will serve all these dishes to guests for a long time to come.
Lunch & Light Dinner
Lemon Fennel Egg Salad Sandwich
Warm Bruschetta Pasta Salad with grape tomatoes and kale
Beverages & Sides