A Few Bulbs of Fennel, 5 Dinners

Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.

Today: Laura Wright from The First Mess makes trusty fennel the star of the show. 

Fennel Halfway to Dinner from Food52

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Fennel is a vegetable I enjoy all year. Its proper season dwells around mid-summer and into the fall in my region, but I splurge on it plenty of other times throughout the year. The fresh licorice, sometimes citrus-y taste feels at home in the deep cold of winter, all roasted with hearty herbs, just as it does in the watery and crisp shreds of a summer salad enjoyed outdoors. It is a diverse and distinct vegetable that certainly deserves some face time at your dinner table. Here's how to make that happen, every night of the week. 

More: Everything you need to know about fennel, plus how to prep it, here

Fennel Halfway to Dinner

Za'atar, Carrot and Leek Flatbread with Almonds and Fennel Salad
We do plenty of homemade pizza nights at my house, but I hardly ever go the red sauce and cheese route. Most of mine see an even ratio of legit pizza/flatbread to greens on top because I like the variation of temperature and texture. This one features the heft of za'atar, carrots, and leeks, all livened up by clementine-dressed fennel shreds, arugula, and salty olives. Once you have a good piece of dough, this one's pretty much in the bag. 

Fennel Halfway to Dinner from Food52

Fennel, Leek, and Walnut Soup with Turmeric and Apples
Fennel and walnuts are a classic pairing and in this soup, the duo makes for really creamy, rich results, without any added dairy or thickeners. The vibrant color and warming properties of the turmeric are crucial in the cold months.

Fennel Halfway to Dinner from Food52

Roasted Fennel and Quinoa Crunch Salad
This one comes together in 20 minutes and leftovers make totally excellent packed lunches. The caramelized fennel pieces mingle nicely with the sharp mustard and lemon vinaigrette, plenty of dill, and crisp cuts of radish and cucumber. The fennel bulbs can be grilled in warmer months, too.

Fennel Halfway to Dinner from Food52

Shaved Fennel Winter Slaw with Hot & Sweet Ginger Dressing and Pears
This bright slaw is a welcome bit of freshness in the cold months; it has sweetness, heat, and crunch. The dressing has a bit of spicy ginger tea thing going on that works really nicely with all of the brassicas, shaved pears, and fennel. It's a nice bowl of abundance once the fresh vegetable options seem to wane. 

Fennel Halfway to Dinner from Food52

Caramelized Fennel and Mushroom Pâté
You can roast any vegetable, blitz it up, and make it into a seriously luxurious vegan pâté. I roast the vegetables in grainy mustard for sharpness and serve it up with pickles, toasted bread or crostini, more mustard, maybe a bit of cheese, and all of the things you would see with a traditional pâté.

Za'atar, Carrot and Leek Flatbread with Almonds and Fennel Salad

1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 to 3 teaspoons za'atar
1 carrot, peeled into thick ribbons
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced 
1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 handfuls baby arugula leaves
1 fennel bulb, cored, shaved thinly
1 clementine, juiced
Salt and pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Laura Wright.  

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Laurelb
  • Lindsey S. Love | Dolly and Oatmeal
    Lindsey S. Love | Dolly and Oatmeal
  • zora
  • Laura Wright | The First Mess
    Laura Wright | The First Mess
I cook for a living, and for every other reason you could imagine. Loves: eating with friends, any vegetable, whiskey, and casual gardening.


Laurelb January 19, 2014
Can't wait to try them all
Lindsey S. January 13, 2014
Laura, each and every one of these fennel recipes has me super stoked! LOVE the pizza and pate, and gorgeous photos as always!
Laura W. January 13, 2014
Thank you, Lindsey! xo
zora January 13, 2014
One of my favorite vegetables. Here's a fennel recipe I contributed a while back: