Fennel is very complimentary to other foods, especially seafoods and citrus. It adds a great zing and crunch to tuna salad; it adds depth and flavor to grilled or roasted fish—pretty much any kind of fish. Add chopped fennel in with any savory recipe that calls for lemon or orange. Fennel also goes well with pork, beef, or chicken.
You can use the green tips, the feather frond-type things, and the white bulbous part of the vegetable, so really all parts of this veggie can get used.
Fennel has a sweet and spicy licorice flavor which mellows a bit when it is cooked. Nutritionally, fennel is very low in calories and offers significant vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and iron. It is related to carrots, parsley, dill, celery, and anise.
Fennel is a popular ingredient in Mediterranean dishes. Every part of the plant can be eaten; the bulb has a nice crunch to it and the leaves make a lovely and flavorful garnish. We like to use fennel in the same way as celery, in fact when fennel is in season we use it as a substitute for celery in most any recipe. Try chopped fennel raw in a green salad, egg salad or tuna salad, or as an addition to a sauté to mix into a sauce, pasta salad, soup, or a breakfast scramble like eggs or tofu. The fennel bulb will keep up to two weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge. The greens will wilt, so use those up in a few days, or cut them off and dry them to use as a dried spice or seasoning.
For a awesome dish featuring fennel, cook up Roasted Fennel Pasta.
photos: CCF staff