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Tonight’s Dinner: Tuscan chicken with grilled fennel recipe

Fennel is the licorice-smelling plant that’s not only great for seasoning, it’s wonderful grilled up and eaten on its own as well.

There’s nothing better than grilled chicken breasts and thighs. They’re so versatile, you could easily do absolutely anything with them and have a different meal every day for a month. You could soak them in a marinade, you could cover them with a tangy barbecue sauce or you can roast them and have a flavorful meal the whole family will be begging for.

One delicious option is giving those thighs an Italian flare like Cesare Casella does by using a double hit of fennel and some lemon juice. That’s right, you don’t need a thick sauce or to soak the chicken for hours in a hearty marinade. Sometimes the most flavorful chicken can be made by simply basting it with lemon juice and a few choice herbs and then laying it on a bed of grilled veggies.

Tuscan chicken with grilled fennel

Serves 4


  • 4 to 6 chicken thighs with the skin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut lengthwise
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 4 tomatoes, halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Whisk together two tablespoons of olive oil and fennel seeds in a large bowl. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to coat with the olive oil marinade.
  2. Whisk together the remaining olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Preheat a grill to 400 degrees F. Drizzle the sliced fennel, onions and tomatoes with olive oil. Grill the sliced fennel and onions until lightly charred and tender, about four minutes. Transfer the fennel and onions to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Grill the tomatoes, cut side down until lightly charred, about two minutes and add them to the platter.
  4. Transfer the chicken from the fennel marinade to the grill skin side down. Baste the chicken with the lemon dressing and cook until charred, turning once, about 20 minutes.
  5. Arrange the grilled chicken on the platter on top of the grilled vegetables. Drizzle with the remaining lemon dressing and serve immediately.

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