Fennel can add elegance to meal


Fennel is one of those overlooked vegetables. It's time to bring it out of its hiding place.

This main dish pairs the mild, licorice-flavored plant with equally mild fish steaks and the salty deliciousness of parmesan cheese. Altogether, they create an elegant but quick meal.

Then add a simple cherry-tomato salad, some bread and, for dessert, ice cream with a favorite topping from a jar. Butterscotch is my favorite.


Choose any mild fish, steaks or fillets, including halibut, snapper, trout or whitefish.

Avoiding alcohol? Substitute chicken broth for the Pernod.


Swordfish with fennel and parmesan

Cherry tomatoes tossed with balsamic vinegar

Toasted Italian bread

Vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce

Pinot grigio

Swordfish With Fennel and Parmesan

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes; cooking time: about 25 minutes

2 bulbs fennel, stalks removed, fronds reserved

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil (divided use)

1 teaspoon coarse salt (divided use)

3 swordfish steaks, about 8 ounces each

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup Pernod or dry white wine

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Trim fennel bulbs; slice thinly. Add to boiling water; cook 10 minutes. Drain. Place in bowl; toss with 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Set aside.

Meanwhile, season swordfish with remaining 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, cracked pepper and red pepper. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat in large oven-safe skillet; add fish.

Cook until lightly browned on one side, 3 minutes. Arrange fennel around swordfish. Sprinkle parmesan over fennel.

Roast until fish is almost cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer fish and fennel to a platter; keep warm. Heat skillet over high heat; add Pernod, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Cook 1 minute. Spoon sauce over fish.

Per serving: 233 calories; 12 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 62 milligrams cholesterol; 6 grams carbohydrate; 25 grams protein; 666 milligrams sodium; 2.5 grams fiber

-- Recipe and analysis from the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper

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