Sometimes when you are serving a big heavy meal, say, at Thanksgiving or Christmas, you need an appetizer that will satisfy people's hunger without filling them up, ruining their appetite, or taking up precious calorie allotments they're saving for things like Rita's Sausage Stuffing and gravy. Seriously, one must leave room for these things. This simple appetizer is another one learned from my in-laws, the Cinquinos, and is something my father-in law's mother from Abruzzi used to make. Nothing could be easier, and I promise there will be none left and no regrets.
You can do this two ways: One with the olive oil, salt, and pepper drizzled over cut-up fennel; the other with the fennel cut up with the olive oil mixture in a bowl for dipping. It all depends on what you prefer.
Fennel is one of those vegetables that seem a bit odd if you aren't used to it, but think of it as round celery that has a hint of licorice flavor to it and you'll be fine. My kids all love it.
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