For a festive side dish that your microwave oven cooks in a flash, accent a frozen vegetable mix with anise-flavored wedges of fresh fennel and toasted sesame seed. Fresh fennel looks a lot like stalks of celery and is most available in the fall. Look for fennel bulbs with fresh, bright-green tops, then use the feathery sprigs to line your serving platter. If you can't find fennel with tops, pick up some fresh dill or parsley to decorate your platter.
2 small fennel bulbs (about 6 ounces each), cut into thin wedges
2 tablespoons water
1 16-ounce package loose-pack frozen mixed broccoli, baby carrots and water chestnuts
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 tablespoon sesame seed