This recipe is from the cookbook France: The Vegetarian Table, by Georgeanne Brennan. She also suggests using leeks, celery hearts, belgian endive, asparagus, or beets instead of fennel, and garnishing with an herb like tarragon, chervil, chives, or parsley.
4 medium-sized fennel bulbs
3/4 cup mustard vinaigrette or shallot vinaigreete
1 ounce asiago or other hard, aged cheese, shaved into paper thin slices with a knife or vegetable peeler
1 tsp. minced fresh chervil
Trim the fennel bulbs, discarding any tough or discolored outer leaves and cutting away and stalks and feathery tops. Cut the bulbs, from the top through the stem end, into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrance the slices on a steamer rack over boiling water, cover, and steam untnil tender when pierced with the tines of a fork, about 10 minutes. Remove the fennel slices to a bowl.
Mustard Vinaigrette (makes 1 cup):
3/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
Pour 3/4 cup of the dressing over the warm fennel, gently turning all the slices to make sure they are all evenly coated. Cover and let stand for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
Top with the cheese and serve warm or at room temperature.
My notes: well, I made a very pared down version of this recipe. I didn’t use the cheese or fresh herbs. I did, however, throw in some carrots with my fennel. Wow. I always forget how tasty steamed vegetables are. I could have just eaten them plain. But I made the vinaigrette. It tasted like oil to me. I doubled the vinegar and mustard and it was better, but still very oily. Could there be something wrong with my vinegar that I needed so much more, or is it just a preferences thing? I enjoyed the vegetables with the vinaigrette, but I didn’t need the full amount called for. If I make it again I will add even more mustard and vinegar to the vinaigrette, and using only about 1/2 to 3/4 as much dressing as called for. But I definitely like the idea of steamed fennel with vinaigrette. The fennel had such a decadent mouthfeel to it, and a mild but very distinctive flavor.
This is a nice recipe for late spring, when some of the early vegetables like fennel, beets, and asparagus are just starting to be available.