Roasted Fennel with Dill and Romano (or Parm)

Today Matt Swaim, Sonrise Morning Show Host, and I chatted about one of my favorite Bible foods: Fennel 

EXODUS: 30:34-38

Fennel growing in my garden

The name fennel is not used, but the word “Galbanum” is mentioned in this passage. Botanists believe this is a giant fennel, which is native to the Mediterranean region and southern Europe. Here’s the passage:  “And the Lord said to Moses, take sweet spices, and galbanum, frankincense and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy and sacred.

How was fennel used during ancient times?

Fennel is one of the spices in the ancient Chinese five spice powder, and the Indians have been incorporating fennel in curries for thousands of years.

The name fennel comes from the Roman word for fragrant hay. They used it as a spice and a vegetable. They sprinkled fennel seeds on bread and mixed the leaves with greens. The stems were preserved in a mixture of vinegar and brine. 

Even earlier, the ancient Greeks used the stalks and leaves and it is said that their word for fennel was “marathon”, because the field where the battle of marathon was fought which took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece, was overgrown with fennel. 

How did it get to America?

The Spanish explorers brought the seeds with them. And you can see evidence of that even today if you drive along Interstate 101 in California, because fennel grows wild there.

Is fennel easy to grow?

Yes, and it’s a tall plant so it’s in the back of my Bible garden. There are two common kinds: Florence fennel, which is a green leaved fennel and produces the popular bulb, and Bronze fennel, grown for its leaves and seeds. 

How do you use fennel?

I use the bulb as a salad ingredient, sliced thin, and also sauté it with garlic. The leaves and seeds make a great paste for pork combined with olive oil and garlic. And the seeds are an important ingredient in Italian sausages.

What are the health benefits of fennel?

It’s huge in vitamins A and C and high in calcium and iron, among other nutrients.

ROASTED FENNEL WITH ROMANO CHEESE

Fresh dill, minced

3-4 fennel bulbs, cut horizontally into large slices

Salt and pepper

Parmesan or Romano cheese, shredded – I use up to a cup depending upon how big the fennel is

Preheat oven to 375. Brush some olive oil on the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Arrange fennel in pan. Sprinkle dill, then with salt and pepper, then with Parmesan. Drizzle with oil. Bake until fork tender and golden brown, 35 minutes or so. Serves 6-8.

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