© 2016 by  Jamie Vincent Bordonaro

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Vegetable Centric Concepts

Now that I’ve debunked the age old adage about a salad being a thoughtless and utterly boring throwaway option, it’s time to re-conceptualize our perspectives on the capabilities of vegetables as star components of a dish. 

Fennel is one of the most aromatic, delicate, and soothing vegetables in a chef’s arsenal. Its textural interest and seemingly sweet nature contributes to its versatility. The utilization of fennel as the premier element in a dish is the ultimate way to honor such a noble vegetable. The application of multiple cooking techniques and processes creates an intriguing platform to showcase the unique interplay of contrasting flavors and textures. First, fennel is sliced thinly and cooked slowly in olive oil, fennel juice, and a touch of butter. When the fennel is tender and the fennel juice reduced to a glaze, the fennel is blended into a smooth and dynamically flavorful puree. Baby fennel is halved, seasoned lightly and placed in a cryovac bag with olive oil and fennel juice with tarragon. The baby fennel is cooked sous vide at 80 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes. The tender and intensely flavored baby fennel is then grilled briefly before gracing the final plate. Finally, fennel is shaved relatively thinly and covered with a pickling liquid of fennel juice, fennel seed, tarragon vinegar, salt and sugar. The pickles will lay atop the vibrant puree, and adorned with the gorgeously grilled slices of baby fennel. Red pepper flakes are slowly simmered in canola oil to create a spicy chili oil to be drizzled atop the fennel compilation. Lastly, micro sorrel- a delightful lemony micro green- whimsically graces the ethereal vegetable- centric composition.

Fennel Composition