Grilled fennel is so simple and it tastes amazing. Serve it as an appetizer or side dish — or just devour it straight off the grill.
I recommend using a grill basket coated with a bit of oil. Smaller bulbs of fennel will fall apart and that’s OK. Having the fennel stay together in halves or quarters is nicer for visual effect, but it’s actually easier to eat if it breaks into smaller pieces.
Go easy on the chili pepper flakes as fresh fennel is flavorful on its own. I highly recommend the optional sesame oil finish.
If grilling is not an option, stir-frying fennel works great too, just don’t add the sesame oil until the end because it can tend to burn. Fennel also pairs really nicely with oranges if you have any, so you serve it with orange slices and make a simple citrus vinaigrette instead of the sesame oil
1 fennel bulb, cut lengthwise
1-1½ T extra-virgin olive oil
chili pepper flakes, small pinch (optional)
kosher salt, small pinch
fresh ground pepper to taste
drizzle of sesame oil (optional finish)
Give the fennel a rinse. Cut away the stalks and fronds and store them in your refrigerator or, if it’s not too hot, you can place them in a pitcher of water (like you would flowers) and leave them on your countertop so you don’t forget about them. You can use them in salads or as a garnish. You can also use the stalks as you would celery, in soups and stocks.
Slice off the base of the fennel and discard. Examine the outer layer of the bulb (like you would a cabbage or onion) and peel away any discoloration by hand or with a peeler. Slice lengthwise into halves or quarters. Cut a v-shaped wedge to remove the fibrous core. For a small bulb like the one pictured, you don’t need to cut much. The less you have to cut away, the more stable your fennel will be on the grill.
In a bowl, gently toss the fennel with olive oil to coat and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of chili pepper flakes (if using).
With a paper towel or brush, lightly coat your grill basket with oil.
Place them in your grill basket. Cover and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side.
Transfer to a platter and drizzle with sesame oil, if using, and another very small pinch of flaky or kosher salt.