There’s a reason visitors to northern California are inevitably reminded of Italy or France: They not only share world-class winemaking, but they also share many similar culinary ingredients. In the summer, the air in northern California is alive with wild rosemary, laurel, and—the hero in this recipe-fresh fennel. Slow-roasting fennel caramelizes its natural sugars and softens what in a raw state is a very crisp texture to a texture something like that of a rich roasted onion. Serve it with lamb, chicken, and pork.

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  • 4 fennel bulbs with tops
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups pitted green olives
  • 3 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 ounces feta cheese. crumbled
  • 1 cup torn fresh mint leaves


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Discard the fennel stalks, reserving the fronds for garnish. Halve the bulbs lengthwise and rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place cut side down in a roasting pan and roast until soft and caramelized, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

To make the olive tapenade combine the green olives, garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, tarragon, capers, vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a food processor and pulse until chunky.

To serve, arrange the roasted fennel on a big platter. Drizzle with the tapenade, then sprinkle the feta cheese, mint leaves, and fennel fronds over all.