So I got smacked in the face at the grocery store the other day.
Not literally, of course. Most people at my grocery store just keep their heads down, plow through anyone who dares to stop short or abandon their cart in the middle of the isle, and grunt disgruntledly, on occasion. Oh yeah, and there’s a lot of huffing and puffing like they’re gonna blow the line up to the cashier down too.
It’s probably because it’s located right on the subway line and everyone who stops through there is either on their way to a job they hate, on their way home from a job they hate, or looking for a job they will hate. I just figure that must be the reason for their anger and impatience because I can’t possibly fathom why anyone would choose to go to the grocery store with so much obvious aggression.
…Maybe they’re all on ‘roids?
Right. Smacked in the face. So, I got smacked in the face at the grocery store the other day. In an effort to re-focus She Eats – and myself – on seasonal, local ingredients, you know I’m selecting one seasonal item per week to talk with your about. I Googled it, and as it turns out, there is literally NO local & seasonally grown food available in Toronto over the next couple of months. So, forced to make an executive decision, I opted to select an ingredient I knew I could get in slightly less harsh climates this time of year. No, not bananas. Not quite that “less-harsh”. Fennel! For fennel salad! I used to get fennel through the Winter when I lived in B.C., so that seemed a legit choice.
So, I loaded up my arms with 3 abnormally-giant bulbs of fennel and made my way to the till and waited to give the cashier my hard earned bucks, careful to avoid the gusts of wind coming from the line behind me.
Then came the total: $12.00.
WTF?! TWELVE DOLLARS?! That’s a third of what I used to pay for my CSA box where I got more produce than I knew what to do with! Twelve dollars for 3 bulbs of in-season produce?? And roasting veg at that – that shit should be cheap like ‘yo mamma on a Saturday night! Slap!
Dazed – and confused how my understated Winter Fennel salad (with all other ingredients included) could cost more than I spend on public transit in a week – I asked the cashier to confirm. He did. So, not wanting to make a fuss – and for fear of the gale force winds growing behind me – I shoved the over-priced anise flavored veggies into my re-usable shopping bag and moped home.
Research, farmers and real food eaters alike regularly tell us that eating in season will save us money. And for the most part, that’s true. Just not at the grocery store where produce that could easily be sourced from local producers, is often shipped in from half way across the planet. I think I’ll be doing more research as to near-by farmer’s markets, even if the only thing on market right now is from storage. Perhaps this is why conventional food eaters think it costs so much to eat local – their only experience with anything remotely seasonal is at their neighborhood chain grocery store. This doesn’t bode well for small scale, local farmers. Or for my wallet.
Lesson learned: Get out, find a farmer, eat their produce. It’s cheaper and tastes better.
All of that being said, this fennel salad tasted pretty fuckin’ good. Roasting fennel reduces the sharp anise flavor you find in it raw, and paired with shaved radishes and a salty, grainy cheese that melts and gets all gooey inside, Winter just doesn’t get any better than this.
- 4 Bulbs of Fennel.
- Handful of Radishes.
- 4 Oz. Grana Padano or Parmesan Cheese.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- As the oven heats, cut the stemmed tops of the bulbs off and the bottom icky bit. Discard, reserving a few sprigs of leaves for garnish.
- Slice bulbs into quarters, discarding bulky, rough outer layer. Place quarters onto a shallow baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well to coat. Place in hot oven and roast for 45-50 minutes or until pieces are tender. Shake & flip pieces after about 30 minutes or when there's a generous amount of color on one side.
- While the fennel roasts, carefully slice radishes as thinly and evenly as possible. A mandolin will help with this if you can't get thin enough - I just used my knife though because I got mad skillz.
- Do the same with the cheese. Set both aside.
- When fennel is finished roasting, toss with cheese, radishes and saved sprigs of fennel leaves.
Do you like fennel? Any good recipes? Have you had a similar experience to mine? One that contradicts it? Share in the comments below!