Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

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I loooooove fennel. It’s such a weird vegetable — it’s white in color, has a core that needs to be removed, acts like a root vegetable (you eat the bulb vs. the plant that grows on top) and it tastes like nothing you would ever expect a vegetable to taste like — licorice or anise is the only way you can describe it, but it’s a mild version, not like biting into a piece of licorice. And then there’s the crunch you get. And on top of that, it’s so versatile! I’ve made dishes with fennel including a cheesy, rich potato fennel gratin, awesome salads, soups and roasted vegetables. It’s really awesome — you’ve got to try it.

This dish — Fennel and Garlic Shrimp — is a great use of fennel courtesy of Ina Garten. It’s fresh, garlicky and makes an awesome pan sauce that you sop up with crusty bread. Plus, it cooks up super quickly, so it’s a perfect weeknight meal.

TW’s Tips

  • I skipped the Pernod since I couldn’t find a nip and I knew this would be the only time I’d use it — but if you have it, it will add a little bit more licorice flavor
  • The shrimp took a little longer than stated to cook — just watch for them to get opaque and curled

Enjoy!

Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb, fronds reserved
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound (16- to 20-count) shrimp, peeled with tails on
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • French bread for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and saute for 5 minutes, until tender but not browned. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook at a very low sizzle for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic just begins to color.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, add them to the pan, and toss together with the fennel and olive oil. Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes on one side. Turn the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on the other side, until they’re pink and just cooked through.

Off the heat, sprinkle with the parsley, 1 tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds, the Pernod (if using), the fleur de sel, and black pepper and serve it with bread to soak up all the pan juices.

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