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Balance The Sweet Flavors Of Fennel With Plenty Of Black Pepper

Fennel in a wood crate
Fennel in a wood crate - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Fresh fennel rarely makes it to the top of anyone's list of favorite vegetables, but maybe feelings would change if you started adding black pepper to its preparation -- and lots of it. Fennel's flavor is often described as reminiscent of licorice, but don't shun it for this reason. It is quite mild and while this bulbous root veggie is sweet by nature, that taste cannot only be tamed and balanced by adding black pepper, it can be transformed.

Pepper, unlike salt, doesn't seek to enhance the flavor of food. It changes the taste by adding its own spicy characteristics to the mix. But that touch of heat is not all that ground pepper brings to the table. You may discover that it has hints of citrus and pine the more you use it. And, the more of it you add to a dish, the more intense heat your mouth will experience thanks to the alkaloid piperine which is predominate in black pepper. Therefore, when you grind a lot of fresh pepper into your lemon-roasted fennel dish or your next roast pork tenderloin with fennel-citrus salad dinner, you are going to change its taste and create a balance between sweet and heat.

Read more: 13 Unexpected Ingredients To Elevate Lasagna

Choose The Right Pepper

Black pepper on a wooden spoon
Black pepper on a wooden spoon - Skhoward/Getty Images

While ground black pepper's bold taste serves as a flavor contrast to fennel, it doesn't overwhelm the sweetness of this vegetable. Of course, you can also experiment with the type of pepper you add. A ground pink peppercorn is going to add more of a fruity element to the fennel with minimal heat and an added blush to the presentation while white pepper will give you a spicy intensity that is slightly milder than that of black pepper. Experimenting with these spices will help you find the one that suits your palate preference.

With this in mind, the next time you are making orange marmalade salmon with roasted fennel, add some black pepper to the dish to complement the citrus notes and amplify the taste of the fennel. And if you want to try some ground pink pepper, shake it with vigor over your next spinach salad with roasted fennel and grapefruit.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.