Fennel! Yay…? I think I am not alone in my ambiguous feelings toward fennel. It’s hard not to be excited by something with such a distinctive flavor, but I’m not entirely sure I like that flavor. It’s the flavor of anise, also used in black licorice. I certainly don’t like black licorice, and I’ve only eaten anise
Despite its questionable taste, fennel has texture going for it. Its texture is like celery. In fact, I’m going to go out on a crunchy, porous limb and say that fennel is like celery’s flamboyant cousin who causes general confusion at family dinners.
Just as much as a flamboyant cousin, every family dinner needs a terrifying albino neighbor. Lucky for me, my Plow to Porch box also included white beets. At first I wasn’t sure what these white beets even were, but then I received an email from Plow to Porch explaining that they hadn’t received their expected shipment of red beets, so they had delivered these creepy white beets instead.
I’m giving the white beets a hard time, but they are actually quite special. I found some websites that describe them as “novelty” beets – so, apparently, they’d be a perfect gift to bring to your next Yankee Swap – and they have the same nutritional value as regular beets but a milder flavor.
Since it is no longer October, I am no longer bound by my pledge to eat only locally produced foods. So for this recipe, I used apple cider vinegar that was pressed by Trader Joe’s somewhere far, far away and Dijon mustard, whose very name betrays its un-American origins.
To make up for the Dijon mustard’s anti-American background, I decided to add apples – everyone’s favorite American snack – to this recipe. In honor of the impending election, I give you Roasted American (because of the apples) Feet (because fennel + beet = feet).
Roasted American Feet
3 white “novelty” beets, skinned and cubed (from Rancho Cortez in Santa Maria, distance from me: 63.4 miles)
2 heads of fennel, sliced thickly (from The Garden Of… in Los Olivos, distance from me: 33.6 miles)
3 Fuji apples, cored, skinned, and chopped into cubes (from Fair Hills Farm in Topanga Canyon, distance from me: 74 miles)
The Feet Sauce
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp honey (from San Marcos Farms in Santa Ynez, distance from me: 30 miles)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
The fennel heads were easier to deal with: I just sliced them into thick strips. I arranged the apples, beets, and fennel in baking dishes pretty haphazardly:
While the dishes were in the oven, I grilled up the white beet greens, which were no more pallid than the greens of normal beets, in olive oil. Beet greens are full of vitamins K, A, and C and taste a lot like spinach when they’re grilled.
The finished product tasted yummy in a very autumnal way. The sweetness of apple balanced out the anise flavor of the “feet,” and the combination of textures worked well, too. It seems to me American zombies everywhere could learn a thing or two from this slightly sophisticated preparation of feet.