Growing up, our mothers used to say, “Eat your vegetables!” As adults, we can thank them because they were right. Countless research studies report increased vegetable consumption as having tremendous benefits to our bodies. We may have reconciled ourselves to the importance of eating vegetables, but in practice, we hover in our green bean and carrot comfort zone, never really venturing into the lesser known vegetables.  By playing it safe, we miss discovering the treasures within God’s vast vegetable order.

Let us then consider 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 to inform our understanding of significance first within the Body of Christ:

“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”  1 Corinthians 12:12-20

Might it be similar with vegetables?  May we not look down on lowly or foreign vegetables, but treat them with special honor…they may be weak according to public recognition and preference, but they are indispensable, each displaying unique colors, textures, sizes, vitamins, flavors, origins, seasons and more.

To launch your vegetable exploration, I recommend fennel. A white bulb with green stalks, it is crunchy and refreshing when eaten raw, but tender and sweet when roasted in the oven. Cooked or uncooked, delicious smells and tastes of mild licorice will fulfill your right desire to “eat your vegetables” and experience the many blessings from God’s edible creativity showcased here in this fennel favorite.  ~Lauren

Roasted Fennel and Tomatoes
2 fennel bulbs cleaned and stalks removed, cut into 8-12 wedges of equal thickness, with root intact
1 carton of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
Chopped fresh herbs to taste (I like tarragon, basil, chives, and/or thyme, or a mix of many other herbs too)
1/4 cup more or less extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested (I prefer the microplane zester) and juiced
Kosher or sea salt
Pepper
Optional: 1-2 teaspoons of truffle oil right before serving.

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees on the bake setting or 400 degrees on the convection bake setting.  Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil.  Then place fennel wedges and cook until just tender, but not mushy (about 8-10 minutes – taste to check).  Remove from water and cool by spreading out the wedges on a baking sheet with a towel underneath to absorb additional moisture.

2.  Place cooled wedges into a large mixing bowl, along with tomato halves, garlic, herbs, lemon zest, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Toss ingredients so that fennel and tomatoes are evenly coated.  Taste and add more salt if needed.

3.  Spread fennel and tomato mixture on a large rimmed  baking sheet.  Ingredients should not be on top of one another or they will steam and not roast as well.  If baking sheet is overcrowded, distribute between a second sheet.  Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, more or less.  If garlic is burning, remove tray at once.  Golden, even browning is the key.  Serve as a side dish with a lighter fish such as halibut, snapper, or grouper.

Serves 4-6