Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Favor Fennel

By Alana Sugar, November 29, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
I often hear concerns about gaining weight during the holidays. That’s why I think it’s important to keep fresh fruits and veggies high on your priority list. But, that doesn’t mean you have to be left out of holiday fun. Unique, delicious fall vegetables are abundant and I plan on staying fit as a fiddle by keeping my focus on a variety of versatile vegetables. High on my list is fennel, a unique, aromatic bulb-vegetable that will delight your taste buds and help keep you fit, too. If you’re not sure you’ve ever tried it before, fennel is unmistakable in appearance and flavor. Reminiscent of both licorice and anise, and looking a bit like celery, one crunchy bite tells you this is no ordinary vegetable! Fennel has been around for eons, dating back to ancient Greece. The slightly sweet, crisp bulb is delicious raw in salads, and is also wonderful when sautéed, braised, roasted or grilled. The leaves (or fronds) look similar to dill. Fennel stands well on its own or pairs beautifully with other raw or cooked veggies, fish and meat. It occupies a unique and important role in cooking among many European countries, especially Italy and France. I first learned to favor fennel when I had it with fish. Since then, I have prepared it in many dishes from raw salads to stir-fries. You’ll find fennel’s flavor most intense when eaten raw, but don’t be shy about cooking it, too! Adding fennel to your menu helps keep you fit with flavor and lots of good benefits:
  • Low calorie
  • Fat free
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Taste bud joy!
The bulb is the most edible part. The stalks are crunchy and delicious, but sometimes a little tough. The leaves are great as garnish. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy fennel: Look for fennel with a clean, firm bulb. Make sure it is not browned, bruised, spotted or split. The stalks should be firm with the leaves a beautiful dark green. The bulb can be white or greenish. Make sure there is no flowering, as this indicates that it is past its prime. The aroma should be fresh and licorice-like. Store it in the fridge for up to five days, but if possible, consume soon after purchasing for the freshest possible flavor. Remember that fennel is abundant from the fall through the early spring, so consider adding this versatile veggie to your holiday menus. Have you tried fennel? Got a favorite recipe? I would love to know!




Patricia says ...
I love the fronds in a salad, fennel tea and the bulb cooked along with carrots. <a href="http://www.culinaryinstitute/" rel="nofollow">Culinary Institute LeNotre</a>
11/29/2010 9:54:46 AM CST
Linda W says ...
I've never had fresh fennel, thanks for publishing this. I will make an effort to locate some eat it raw and cook it.
11/29/2010 12:25:15 PM CST
David L. Franklin says ...
Thanks for the recipe ideas... I will pass them along to my clients.
11/29/2010 12:51:01 PM CST
Joe @ Eden Kitchen says ...
I love to use fennel in the soffritto for this Autumn Minestrone: http://edenkitchen.com/early-autumn-minestrone/
11/29/2010 1:34:37 PM CST
Shadi says ...
Hi, I recently found the use of Fennel,vegetable from heaven(for the smell of it). I like to make pickles at home, with organic cucumber and garlic and dill. I started using fennel last time in my pickle,and believe me it was fantastic.All you need to do is chopping a fennel to some small pieces and add it to your ingredients. It also helps to digest food, badly. My Mum has digestion problems most of the time. Now she is using it in all her meals everyday and she feels more comfortable after each meals. She says it is the only vegetable that she eats and she does not have stomachache after that.
11/29/2010 1:40:45 PM CST
Melissa says ...
Fennel on a homemade pizza. Mmmm, mmm mmm!
11/29/2010 3:06:11 PM CST
KatRau says ...
Green bean, Granny Smith and fennel salad A pleasingly crunchy green and white combination of fragrant fennel, tart apple and earthy green beans. Servings: 4 servings 2 cups green beans 1 tbsp Dijon mustard Juice of 1 lemon Zest of 1/2 lemon Salt and pepper 2 tsp fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried 1 tbsp minced fennel fronds 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/3 cup coarsely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley 2 small Granny Smith apples or crisp pears 1 bulb fennel, quartered, cored and thinly sliced Blanch green beans in lightly salted boiling water just until specks of darker green appear, shock in ice water and drain well, patting dry with paper towels. Remove stems and cut beans into approximately 2" lengths. In a medium bowl, whisk Dijon mustard with lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper, oregano and minced fennel fronds. Whisk in olive oil one tablespoon at a time. Stir in chopped parsley. Core apples or pears and cut into quarter inch julienne. Immediately toss apple sticks in dressing to coat all sides thoroughly. Fold in sliced fennel and green beans. Chill salad at least 30 minutes before serving.
11/29/2010 4:18:34 PM CST
TDF says ...
If you use fennel in your cooking/salads, please tell whomever you serve. Please plainly state its inclusion in the list of ingredients on a menu. Fennel supposedly helps with digestion. I have the opposite reaction -- I have a rare allergy to it. For example, fennel seeds that are hidden within Italian sausage or meatballs will give me nausea within a few hours followed by abdominal cramps for 24 to 48 hours. I now know how to avoid fennel seeds, and it's easy to avoid "fennel pizza" and "fennel salad", but more and more, I have to be wary of minced, shaved, and sliced fennel that is hidden in salads or thrown on top of various dishes.
11/30/2010 1:43:52 AM CST
Pamela says ...
Thanks so much for this blog post! I have never used fennel, because I didn't know anything about it, but with all the info you provided I am going to make some fennel seed tea and put some in my salad tonight.I would love to see more posts like this. There are so many vegetables I don't buy because I don't know what parts I am supposed to eat/not eat and how to properly prepare them. Could you do series of posts (even once a month) on vegetables? Thanks!
12/02/2010 8:00:24 AM CST
charlottekingwi says ...
Finally got up the nerve to try this. I love the salad recipe. Instead of pinenuts I use sliced asian pear with the arugula...lovely and refreshing taste...
12/02/2010 12:45:12 PM CST
Maria Trevino says ...
Interested in your coments and in your products
12/06/2010 1:50:21 AM CST
Sandra says ...
Do you sell powdered or ground fennel seeds? Thank You
05/15/2013 8:44:15 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@SANDRA - Our products vary between store locations. Check with your local store to see what they have in stock!
05/20/2013 1:56:13 PM CDT
Bob says ...
When is fresh fennel available and will whole foods carry it. I live in Westminster colorado
06/13/2015 6:56:17 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@BOB - Our exact product options will differ between stores. It's best to check with your local store in Colorado to see if they have this in stock.
06/16/2015 6:18:08 PM CDT