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Author Notes: Leonardo da Vinci is said to have commented once that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. These pretty pickles are both. I use champagne vinegar, because its delicate flavor does not overwhelm the fennel. You can use white wine vinegar instead, if you prefer. Use it in salads, chop it into relish, layer it into sandwiches, or serve like a fresh chutney. I've included ten different ideas, at the end of the recipe instructions, on ways to use this. Enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames
Makes 2 or 3 eight-ounce jars
- 2 medium to large bulbs of fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced (reserving the leafy fronds)
- 1 1/2 cups champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar, if you prefer)
- A fat pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 10 sprigs of parsley
- 3 leafy sprigs of tarragon
- 1 bay leaf
- 10-12 chives
- 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- In a small non-reactive pan, covered, bring to a slow simmer the vinegar. Add the fennel seeds, bay leaf, salt and sugar and give it a good stir..
- Tie up the fresh herbs and fennel leaves with a small piece of kitchen twine. Put them in the bottom of the pan. Muddle the fresh leaves gently with a metal spoon.
- Add the fennel slices, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for one minute.
- Without removing the lid, turn off the heat and let the pan sit for about half an hour.
- Remove the fennel with a slotted spoon and put into clean jars.
- Pour over the cooking liquid. Then slip the herbs down along the side of the jars. If you are giving these as gifts, put fresh herbs instead, if you wish. If the liquid does not cover the fennel, add filtered water as necessary.
- Cover and refrigerate until used. Enjoy!! ;o)
- These will last for at least several weeks in the fridge. I remove the herbs after about five days, as they can become bitter over time.
- Now, for ten ways to use these pickles:
- Chop finely, toss with a touch of olive oil and a good sweet mustard and put on a savory herbed sausage, and serve on a roll (or better yet, put the sausage and fennel on a hot dog bun, wrap it up and take it with you to a baseball game). Along the same lines, you could slather a good pre-cooked sausage with your favorite dark mustard, wrap it in your favorite biscuit dough and bake, to make a pig-in-a â??blanket, to take it to a ballgame (or not), served with the fennel, prepared as described above, on the side.
- On a pulled pork (or chicken) barbeque sandwich: Coarsely chop the fennel, add a teaspoon or two of aioli or good mayonnaise per serving and a tiny pinch of organic raw sugar (or regular sugar, if you prefer). Use instead of or with lettuce, as you prefer.
- In a salad with red leaf lettuce, carrot, blood or other sweet orange sections, and a vinaigrette made using the fennel vinegar, finely chopped shallots, parsley, and chives, and olive oil, a tiny pinch of salt, a touch of mustard and maple syrup to taste.
- On a leftover turkey sandwich. Drain the fennel well and chop the large pieces coarsely. Lay the fennel directly on the piece of bread with mayo or aioli on it, so that it will create a nice little dressing when the two meet. This is particularly good when you've also put cranberry relish on the sandwich!!
- Toss with aioli or good mayonnaise, stone ground brown mustard to taste, a tiny pinch of sugar or a bit of maple syrup, and a grated carrot and/or a quarter of an apple, also grated. Use as you would a celeriac remoulade.
- In a muffaletta style sandwich: Use milder flavored meats to enjoy the counterpoint of the fennel against the olives. It works really well!
- In egg salad or traditional American potato salad: Use this in place of whatever other relish youâ??d use. Very finely chop and use instead of, or with (but reduce the amount of) finely chopped celery.
- As an easy room-temperature side dish (I always serve this in small glass bowls, because it is so pretty): Drain the fennel, put it in a small mixing bowl and toss with one tablespoon of fruity olive oil per serving -- I like good arbequina oil for this -- and then sprinkle on and toss with: fresh parsley, two tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice, the zest of an orange, finely chopped (to taste). Some tangerine or orange sections (use a small, sweet variety) are nice in this, giving it color, too.
- In a warm potato salad. For example, see my recipe for Potato Salad with Fennel and Shallot Relish and Bacon, posted separately here on FOOD52.
- Use the fennel and herb-flavored vinegar in a vinaigrette: Depending on its strength, you may want to reduce the vinegar by simmering it gently, as it likely is diluted somewhat. Whisk it into olive oil with a bit of maple syrup or sugar and a pinch of salt, in the proportions you prefer for a vinaigrette. My usual is, roughly, for each ½ c. olive oil, add 3 T. vinegar, one teaspoon maple syrup (more or less, depending on how strong and sweet it is), and a good pinch of salt.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Vinegar
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Condiment
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Edible Gift