5:50 AM EST
Pickled Young Fennel & Red Onion
Fennel is an underutilized vegetable, at least in the United States. In Tuscany the stuff grows wild everywhere. The last time we visited my uncle Miloš in Chianti, the boyfriend thought I would die after eating so much of it off the side of the road. But I live to tell the tale. Sometimes you can find young fennel at the farmers’ market – the stalks are quite tender and lend themselves perfectly to pickling. The resulting sharp, anise-flavored Pickled Young Fennel & Red Onion goes wonderfully with fish and pork and is also great as a stand-alone pickle. Add a little olive oil and it becomes a superb marinade.
• 3 cups white vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons salt
• 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
• 2 lbs fennel bulbs
• Half a red onion, thinly sliced
First trim the young fennel – remove the bottom quarter inch and needle-like leaves. Give it a good wash with a vegetable brush as dirt gets trapped between layers of the bulb. Chop the fennel into somewhat small slices; the resulting pickle should be more on the relish end.
Next, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and fennel seeds in a pot set over medium heat. Bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the fennel and onion, bring the vinegar solution back to a boil and remove from heat immediately. Place the lid on the pot and let stand for 5 minutes.
At this point you can either fill sterilized jars with the fennel and pickling liquid (up to within a quarter inch of the rim) or process in a water-bath canner for 15 minutes. If you want to try canning but don’t know where to start please visit the website for the National Center for Home Food Preservation (http://nchfp.uga.edu/) before proceeding. It’s very easy and honestly, I would only be duplicating their easy-to-follow directions.