Fennel in Olive Oil (Zeytinyağlı Rezene)

One of the most healthy and nutritious vegetables, fennel has a crunchy texture and aromatic flavor. Fennel comprised of a white bulb with layers, green stalks similar to celery and feathery leaves similar to dill. This vegetable has very powerful amounts of antioxidants, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C and many other nutrients. It has been used in cooking since ancient times in the Mediterranean region. Its medicinal uses are not limited to digestive disorders, anemia and respiratory disorders. There are numerous health benefits to this tasty aromatic vegetable.

A few years ago, when I was developing my new interest in cooking, I found this vegetable that was not familiar to me previously at a market. Not knowing what to do with it, I bought it anyway as I love discovering new things. With the suggestion of a friend who was visiting, we cooked it in olive oil. That was my introduction to fennel. Since then, I’ve managed to create different types of recipes with this vegetable.

This particular dish was one of our survival foods during Huricane Ike. While expecting Ike to hit the coast of Galveston, we were aware of possible power outages and food going bad in the refrigerator. I decided to cook some of the veggies that I had on hand that could survive to be in the fridge for some time after the power goes out. I had a large bulb of fennel sitting in the fridge, so I cooked it in olive oil. It lasted 3-4 days and did not go bad without refrigeration.

My husband was teasing me that even in the aftermath of the hurricane we were eating “fancy” food. He was lucky that we did not have to resort to his canned food that he lived on when he was single. Thankfully, we had enough of good food for almost a week which was equivalent to the time we were without water and power. We were also lucky to have good friends who received power and water way before we did and who were very welcoming in their home when we used their showers and ate their food. Thank you Selma and Selim.

1 large fennel bulb
¼ white or yellow onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
½ lime
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of ground black pepper
Pinch of salt

Cut the fennel bulb in half and slice each half. Heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes. When the onions and garlic are soft, add the sliced fennel bulb. Add salt and pepper. Squeeze a half lime on top and sautee for 3-5 minutes. Serve as a warm or cold side dish.

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