With perfectly balanced flavours, oven roasted fennel and carrots make a great side dish for a large range of meals. This roasted fennel recipe is really easy to make and very tasty. Because of their various aromatics, roasting the fennel, carrots and onions in the oven brings out a mild sweetness together with earthy and nutty undertones. Serve alongside roasted chicken, grilled meat or fish as a delicious and healthy side dish.
What does fennel taste like?
Not everyone likes the outspoken taste of fennel bulbs. The anise liquorice flavour of fennel can be a bit bold for some people, especially when eaten raw. However, when fennel is heated up, either by roasting or grilling, the taste gets remarkably mild but it still has a nice rich flavour profile.
When roasting fennel, the natural sugars in it caramelise, which in turn intensifies the flavour. It also makes the texture of the fennel more tender with a slightly crispy exterior. So roasting fennel in the oven gives a mild caramelisation to the vegetable bringing out a sweeter taste than when eating it raw.
Which ingredients to use
- Fennel bulbs: You’ll need fennel that feels firm with a pale white bulb, without any discolouration or brown spots and with a fresh looking green top.
- Carrots: Choose carrots that are bright orange and firm to the touch. For this roasted carrots recipe, preferably use fresh vegetables instead of frozen ones for optimal results. Frozen carrots hold more liquid resulting in less caramelisation.
- Onion: Use either yellow or red onion. I have used a red onion in this roasted fennel recipe as it adds a nice vibrant colour to this dish.
- Garlic: Don’t use too much garlic as it might overpower the mild taste of the roasted vegetables. One clove of garlic should provide enough aroma to bring out a lovely depth of flavour.
- Olive oil: Use a good quality olive oil, preferably extra-virgin for optimal Mediterranean taste.
- Herbs: You can either use dried or fresh herbs. For roasting carrots and fennel I have opted for dried Italian herbs like oregano, thyme and rosemary. Fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs will also work perfectly.
- Seasoning: Finish off with sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
How to make oven roasted fennel
Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
After preparing the vegetables, the oven does the rest of the work and you either prepare the rest of the meal, or sit back and relax.
- Preheat the oven: Roasting the fennel and carrots at high temperature gives great caramelisation. It makes them golden brown on the outside and nice and tender on the inside.
- Slice the fennel bulbs: First you should cut the green top and the hard bottom from the fennel bulb. The fennel should be sliced thinly, about 1/4 inch or 5 mm, but don’t cut the slices too thin as you’ll want them to still have a bite after the fennel is roasted. You can either cut by hand using a sharp knife, or you can use a mandoline, just as long as all the slices end up with the same thickness which is important for equal cooking.
- Cut the other vegetables: Peel the carrots and cut into equal sized sticks. Peel the onion and chop into pieces or half moons. But, don’t cut the onion too thin or fine either otherwise it will disappear while roasting. Peel and mince the garlic.
- Seasoning: Since fennel already has a nice flavour of its own, especially when also adding carrots and onions, not much extra flavouring is needed. A good drizzle of olive oil with salt and pepper is sufficient. However, I like to give it even more of a mediterranean flavour by adding garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano. Try it, you won’t regret it.
- Roast the vegetables: Place the dish in the oven and roast for about 40 minuten. Give the vegetables every now and then a shake. They are ready when all the vegetables are soft.
What to do with the leftover fennel fronds
The green fennel fronds are the leaves on the top of the fennel bulbs which are usually cut and thrown away. However, they can be used in various ways, so don’t immediately discard them. Here are a few examples of how they can be used:
- In a salad: If you like the strong anise flavour, you can use the green tops in a salad by cutting them into small rings. They add a distinctive flavour and are also a nice and colourful decoration.
- As garnish: When serving these roasted carrots and fennel, place a few fennel fronds on top for decoration and extra taste.
- Stock: When making stock, add fennel fronds for extra depth of flavour.
- Soup: When making soup (without first making the stock) consider adding them for flavour, either before mixing or as garnish when serving.
Oven roasted fennel and carrots is a great side dish for the fall and winter season. It goes well with a whole range of meats, in particular grilled chicken and even fish, like this fried trout. But as with any holiday roast, this side dish will be a family favourite.
More fennel recipes to try
- Fennel soup with zucchini and start anise
- Dogfish stew with fennel, red pepper and tomatoes
- Shaved fennel salad with honey mustard dressing
Oven roasted fennel and carrots
- 2 medium fennel bulbs sliced lengthwise
- 3 carrots peeled and cut in sticks
- 1 large red onion sliced into half moons or roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400℉ or 200℃.
- Cut the bottom and green tops of the fennel bulb and slice lengthwise into thin slices. Peel the carrots and cut in 4 inches (or 10 cm) long sticks of ¼ inches (or 5 mm) thickness. Peel the onion and slice into half moons or roughly chop.
- Place the fennel, carrots, onions and minced garlic in an oven dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until coated. Sprinkled the herbs and seasoning over the veggies.
- Place the dish in the oven for about 45 minutes or until tender. Take out every so often and toss the roasting veggies a few times so all sides get properly roasted.
- Add extra seasoning to taste before serving.
- Herbs: Replace the dried herbs with fresh herbs for a different aroma. Or use a mix of both dried and fresh herbs.
- Fennel fronds: Don’t dispose of the green fennel fronds as they can be used to garnish the dish before serving, or added to a salad, or they can be used to make stock or soup.
Inspired to prepare this recipe? Don’t forget to pin it to your Pinterest board for later.