Crudite platters generally bore me, especially those with raw broccoli. Nonetheless when I needed some vegetal variety for Izzy's birthday menu I decided to go the crudite route.
My platter had baby carrots, celery sticks, cooked broccoli, grape tomatoes and fennel (or at least it was supposed to, not sure if actually made it to the patter or not). I don't know who ate the veggies but there were none left by the party's end.
I included the fennel (or at least intended to) because Izzy enjoys it and I always forget to buy it. I can't say that I am overly fond of it but it is growing on me. Izzy will munch his plain ,like a mishapen celery stalk, but I prefer my fennel shaved with lemon, olive oil and salt. I think anise is one of those flavors that people either love or hate. I did grow up disliking licorice and anything vaguely resembling it in taste yet fennel has helped me to conquer this shortcoming. In order to expose Izzy early, I started keeping it around for him to nibble on by the age of two and it has since become a part of our repertoire.
Tonight I served sliced fennel with shredded carrots and the lemon vinaigrette. It made a perfect side dish to our pasta with tomato, ricotta and basil.
Tomorrow, Izzy gets fennel sticks in his lunchbox. Fennel is a perfect alternative or companion to celery and carrots. Try keeping some around the house and introducing your kids to it.