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Author Notes: Pan-fried in a little olive oil, these fennel fritters come out tender on the inside and delightfully crunchy on the outside. Served with a fragrant Meyer lemon dip, they're irresistible! —Viviane Bauquet Farre
Makes 16 to 20 fritters
For the fennel and breadcrumbs
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 1 tablespoon sea salt for the blanching water
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds – finely ground in a mortar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 large eggs – lightly beaten
- high heat vegetable oil for pan-frying
- fennel greens as garnish
For the dip
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest (or regular lemon zest)
- 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons regular lemon juice)
- To trim the fennel bulb – Cut the stalks off where they meet the bulb. Cut the bulb in quarters, right through the root end. Then cut each quarter in 4 to 5, 1/4” slices, making sure to cut right through the root end again so the slices stay attached together. (The fennel slices can be blanched right away or placed in a bowl and submerged with cold water. They can be stored this way and refrigerated for several hours. This will keep them crisp and prevent them from discoloring).
- Fill a medium bowl with cold water and several ice cubes, set aside. Fill a medium heavy-bottomed pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and fennel slices. Blanch for 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water bath until cool. Drain on kitchen towels or paper towels and pat-dry.
- For the breadcrumbs – Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, ground fennel seeds, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread on a plate and set aside.
- Place the beaten eggs in a small bowl. Dip each fennel slice in the egg and then turn them in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a plate large enough to hold all the slices in a single layer. Cook’s note: The fennel fritters can be prepared to this point up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to pan-fry them.
- To make the dip — Place the sour cream in a bowl. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Whisk until well incorporated and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To make the fritters – Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to the pan to reach 1/8” up the sides. When the oil is hot add the fennel slices to the pan so they are in a single layer, without overcrowding them. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until golden-brown. Flip the slices and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes until golden-brown. Remove from pan with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.
- To serve – Overlap 4 to 5 fritters in the center of each plate. Place a spoonful of the dip next to them. Garnish with fennel greens and serve immediately. Alternatively, serve as an hors d’oeuvres and place the fritters on a large platter and the dip in a medium bowl. Cook’s note: Serve the fritters piping hot, as they become soggy as they cool.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Fennel