Pickled Fennel

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With six bulbs of fennel hiding out in my fridge and a small village set to descend for Thanksgiving, I made this condiment for my big share boards that hang out all day. A share board is essentially a platter filled with all sorts of delicious bites that guests can share as an appetizer or starter to a meal or that’s simply at the ready whenever someone needs a little taste.

My boards intermingles my homemade accoutrements – the sort that have had a lot of time to preserve and the quick kind with the last produce from the farm – with the boutique variety from my favorite makers. Together, it just all makes sense. Add a little cheese and meat and mustard and, well, it makes even more sense.

I am a big fennel fan, and set against a few chunks of very good cheese, this pickled fennel will sparkle. It’s got some nice orange flavor and I like to tuck the small fronds into the mix for pops of bright green and a even more anise-y aroma. Make this now and it will be ready in time for the big day. I imagine that it would also go nicely in a turkey sandwich later that night.

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Pickled Fennel

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Pickled Fennel

Equipment Needed: 1 quart jar with airtight lid, cleaned

Ingredients:

  • 6 small bulbs fennel bulbs
  • 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
  • 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon preserved lemon (optional)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Cut the tough core out of the center of the fennel. Do this by slicing a “v” around the core; it should drop out easily. Slice the fennel into thin pieces horizontally. The 6 bulbs should amount to about 1 1/3 pounds prepared fennel. Place the fennel in a colander. Sprinkle with salt, toss gently and let sit to drain for an hour.
  2. Zest the orange into long strips. Add the orange zest and preserved lemon to the salted fennel and toss to mix. Pack tightly into the jar, pressing it down to get it all in there.
  3. Juice the orange to get about 1/3 cup of juice. In a pot over medium heat, add the juice, vinegar, peppercorns, and sugar. Bring just to a boil, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
  4. Pour the hot liquid into the jar. Tap the jar or run a skewer inside the edges the jar to release any air bubbles. Add more liquid as needed to cover the fennel. Seal and cool to room temperature. Set in the fridge; the fennel will be ready to eat in 2 days. Store in the fridge for up to a month.
Photos taken and styled by Maggie Battista.

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