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Marinated Fennel in Olive Oil and Herbs

3 pounds fennel (3 bulbs with 1-inch stalks)

2 medium onions, sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

2 lemons, scrubbed and thinly sliced lengthwise (unpeeled)

4 sprigs fresh thyme

3/4 cup white-wine vinegar

Pinch of sugar dissolved in 1 teaspoon water

Coarse sea salt or kosher salt, to taste

Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil, to cover

Wash, dry and trim the fennel stalks to meet top and sides of bulb. Remove dry or pulpy outer leaves, stalks and edible leaves. Save outer leaves and stalks for soup and leaves for garnishing.

Slice bulbs thinly crosswise. Place slices in a large bowl with the onion, garlic, lemon slices and thyme. Mix in the vinegar and sugar water. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and cover with extra-virgin olive oil (or half olive oil, half vegetable oil), making sure that olive oil covers fennel.

Use a dish smaller than circumference of bowl, and a kettle half-filled with water on top as a weight to help submerge vegetables. Let sit several hours at room temperature before serving.

Remove thyme sprigs and transfer to a 2-quart Mason jar. Store tightly closed in refrigerator. More fennel may be added to same marinade for a week. Top up with olive oil so fennel is submerged. These fennel "pickles" make a deliciously different and versatile condiment and topping. Serve them straight from the jar in salads or sandwiches, atop pasta or baked on focaccia or fish.

Makes enough to fill a 2-quart Mason jar.

Adapted from "The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking," by Phyllis Glazer with Miriyam Glazer.