Crunchy and slightly sweet, fresh fennel’s taste reminds me of licorice or anise. It looks a little like celery but with a bulbous end and delicate green leaves called fronds.All parts are edible and delicious!
- The bulb is often enjoyed raw in salads, salsas and slaws or braised, roasted or grilled.
- The stalks can be chopped and added to soups, stews, chowders and stocks.
- The leaves make a perfect garnish or addition to any recipe calling for fresh herbs.
In peak season from fall through early spring, why not dress up your winter menu with some delicious fennel recipes? Here are some tips and ideas you may want to use:
- Sauté slowly with onions to caramelize. Serve as a topping to meats or grains, or as a side dish.
- Toss in olive oil and roast in a hot oven.
- Combine raw with avocado and oranges or grapefruit.
- Chop fennel bulbs and/or stalk finely. Add to raita or salsa. Delicious with cucumber, yogurt, parsley and/or cilantro and seasonings!
- Fennel and fish are inseparable. Try this Saffron-Roasted Salmon, this Tilapia with Fennel and Tomato, this Leek and Fennel Snapper, this Grilled Salmon Spread with Fennel and Chives, and this Potato Encrusted Halibut with Roasted Onions and Fennel.
- Add to green salads or grain salads. Here’s a wonderful selection: Arugula Salad with Fennel and Pine Nuts, Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad with Goat’s Milk Panna Cotta, Fennel and Tangerine Salad, Orange and Fennel Salad, Radicchio, Fennel and Pear Salad, Crisp Fennel and Radish Salad, and Tossed Salad with Shrimp and Fennel.
- Chop and add to soups, stews, chowders and vegetable stocks. Try cream of fennel soup by simmering fennel in vegetable stock. Puree and add a dash of cream or non-dairy “cream.”
- Chop and add to slaw, potato salad, egg, tuna or chicken salad.
- Braise in stock or add to root vegetables and roast. Try this recipe for Maple Roasted Fennel or this recipe for Braised Chicken with Fennel and Apples.
- Go Mediterranean with this delicious Leg of Lamb with Roasted Fennel.
- Fennel and fruit make a great pair. This Waldorf Salad with Honey-Yogurt Dressing and Fresh Mint features fennel with grapes, cranberries, cherries and apples.
- Make fennel tea from the seeds and fronds. Simply steep a teaspoon of each in a cup of hot water, covered for 10 minutes. Strain and add honey and lemon or lime, or enjoy just as it is.
- Use the fennel fronds to garnish veggies, grains, meats, fish dishes and fruit salads.
Be sure to choose a clean, firm bulb, no browning, bruising, splitting or spotting. The stalks should be firm and crunchy, not soft or bendable. The leaves will naturally be darker green although the bulb can be white to whitish-green in color. The aroma should be fresh and licorice-like. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, but if possible, use it soon after purchasing for the best possible flavor.Do your feasts feature fennel? Got a favorite recipe? Let me know.