I was recently at the grocery store and saw that fennel is in season in my area (Northern California).I’m sure you know, but for those who don’t, the fennel is composed of a white or light green bulb, superimposedstalks, feathery leaves and crunchy seeds, all of which are edible and nutritious.I love to add fennel to chicken or fish dishes or even to salads to give it an extra layer of flavor that will surely confuse your guests.Sue, fennel is just now coming into season and is most prevalent in Northern California, which is why you are seeing it on your grocery store shelves.Keep cooking simple to get a great outcome and remember that good olive oil, white wine and lemon are perfect companions to this sweet and delicious vegetable.Or try some of our favorite recipes beef bourgignon, minestrone soup and classic caesar salad. .
Fennel: The Raw and the Cooked
Many Italians like to end a big meal with sliced raw fennel, also known as sweet anise, convinced that this crisp vegetable aids their digestion.I can’t vouch for fennel’s medicinal properties, but like many of my fellow Italians, I love its licorice-like flavor and crunchy texture.My parents, who were farmers, did not grow it when I was a child in rural Calabria—the “toe” of the Italian boot—because we lived in the hills, and fennel prefers the cool coast.And in my current northern California home, I have access to fennel year-round, so I eat it in every possible way: raw in salads or as a simple snack, and cooked in a variety of satisfying side dishes.But one of my favorite winter salads combines thinly sliced fennel with juicy orange segments, red onions, and black olives.I also like to eat strips of raw fennel as a snack, just as Americans reach for carrot or celery sticks.Large chunks of fennel can be fibrous, so I like to cut the bulbs lengthwise into slender slivers or crosswise into thin half moons (see directions below).It’s delicious roasted at high temperatures, which turn the edges brown and crisp, or slowly sautéed in a bit of olive oil.I slowly braise thick wedges with tomatoes, olives, capers, and a little water, and the results are luxurious: smooth and creamy with a sweet, tangy flavor.No matter what method you use, fennel that’s thoroughly cooked (be sure it has plenty of moisture or fat) becomes almost creamy, losing the crunch it has when raw but gaining in sweetness. .
Preparing Fennel For Salad
The outer layer of the fennel may be too tough to eat easily and if it is, peel it away and save it for the stock pot.Sit the two halves cut side down and slice the fennel crossways, to give small crescent-shaped pieces. .
How to Store and Use Fresh Fennel
Rounded and curvy, with long stalks and fine green fronds sticking out atop its white bulb, fennel makes quite an impression.It’s a sweet, cooling vegetable, reminiscent of licorice with a flavor that’s similar to dill or anise.Whether you get your veggies in a grocery store or at a farmers market, be on the lookout for these shiny white bulbs.If you notice brown marks on its white outer layers, you’ll know the fennel bulb’s best days are already behind it.Place in boiling water for 1 minute, with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in, to keep the fennel’s bright color.Using fennel in your cooking is a wonderful way to add fresh flavor to your favorite dishes.So whenever you’re looking for a raw salad ingredient or a warm vegetable side dish, fennel is a tasty all-around choice for both.Before adding fennel to your meal, make sure it’s clean – sand or dirt can gather between the onion-like layers.With very large specimens, I also cut out the inside stalk, because it can have a bitter flavor and might too tough in texture to chew easily.When cooked as a vegetable side dish, I love to cut it into quarters or thick slices – sometimes with the fronds still on – and serve it just like that.Whether you want to try it out for the first time or you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some tips describing what you might choose to combine with fennel in order to unveil its delicious, aromatic, full flavor.If you haven’t done it before, try combining the bulb with Mediterranean vegetables – like sweet bell peppers, juicy tomatoes, or olives.A classic companion, this can be white fish, salmon, or more delicate seafood like prawns.Combined with a sauce of butter and white wine, it adds divine flavors to seemingly everyday dishes.On the contrary, I love to serve fried slices of the vegetable with pan-seared pork chops or beef, along with some mashed potatoes or cooked rice.These lean meats combine with this vegetable just perfectly – especially when accompanied with a fruit and cream sauce, opening up some fresh flavor perspectives!It pairs well with oranges and grapefruit, which have juicy, fruity aromas that are more than agreeable with that anise-like flavor. .
How to Cut Fennel Bulb 3 Different Ways
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team.Fennel adds a complex anise (licorice-like) flavor and crunch to many dishes.The round bulb with feathery stalks growing out of it is unique for sure.Don't worry, it's easier to deal with than it looks, as long as you've got a sharp chef's knife handy.With its wispy fronds and bulbous base, fennel looks like a feather-topped, potbellied cousin to celery.The white bulb and bright green fronds have a gentle, slightly sweet anise flavor.Cut a few of the bright green fronds from the stalks to save as a garnish for your recipe.To keep the fronds fresh while the dish cooks, rinse them in cool tap water.Before you get started slicing and dicing the fennel bulb, remove the root end.Once you've removed the root end and any wilted layers, it's time to start chopping fennel.Cut away and discard the tough core portion from each quarter.Cutting fennel into wedges makes for lovely presentation on salads and other dishes that don't require cooking.Using a chef's knife, slice the bulb lengthwise into thin strips. .
12 tips from a cooking teacher to help you slash meal prep time
A basic rule of thumb regarding produce: It slowly loses its nutritional value beginning the moment that it is harvested.To prevent drying out in the refrigerator, put a damp paper towel on top of the cut vegetables and store in an airtight container.Vegetables to be added to a cooked dish, such as in a frittata or casserole, can be sautéed or roasted the day before and stored in the refrigerator.Asparagus and Green Beans: Can be washed, trimmed, and stored in an airtight container or a resealable bag for 2 to 3 days.Bell Peppers: Can be washed, cored, and seeded 2 to 3 days in advance.Cabbage: Can be washed and chopped, sliced, or shredded 1 to 2 days in advance.Garlic: Can be peeled and whole cloves stored in a glass jar or resealable bag until ready to use.Fresh minced garlic can lose its flavor/potency when prepared too far in advance, so chop as you go to preserve the flavor.Allow to dry for a few hours on a clean towel on your countertop or upright in a dish drainer in the sink.Onions: Chop or slice 1 to 2 days in advance, but keep in a tightly sealed glass container or a double-bagged resealable bag (if you don't double the bags, your refrigerator will likely smell like onions and their aroma will infuse the foods surrounding them).Cilantro, parsley, dill, thyme, rosemary and mint: Trim the stems, wash, dry, and store in a glass jar with an inch of water at the bottom, and cover with a plastic bag.If using within a few days, washed herbs can be put in a re-sealable plastic bag and stored in the fridge.These herbs can be chopped a few hours in advance, if necessary, but will give you the best results if you cut as you go, and even better if you tear by hand.Basil, sage and chives: Wash these herbs as you need them (they will brown or wilt if done too far in advance) and chop as you go.Apples: If slicing a few hours in advance, store in cold water to prevent oxidation.Melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), mangoes and pineapple: These can all be cut 3 to 4 days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.Stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines) and pears: Best to wash and prep these as needed.Quinoa, farro, rice, barley, millet, beans, and lentils can be cooked 3 to 4 days advance and stored in the refrigerator.Defrost in the refrigerator or countertop and reheat on the stove with a little water when ready to consume.Salad dressings can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark place in the kitchen.You can freeze chicken stock in ice cube trays so you always have just the right amount on hand.Chicken and vegetable stock can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.Precooked (poached or roasted) chicken is convenient to have on hand for casseroles, salads, soups, quesadillas and enchiladas.If you want to bake a cake or make pancakes, for example, you can mix all the dry ingredients ahead and store in an airtight container at room temperature for a month (or two!Excerpted from Kitchen Matters: More than 100 Recipes and Tips to Transform the Way You Cook and Eat—Wholesome, Nourishing, Unforgettable by Pamela Salzman. .
How to Grow and Care for Fennel in Your Herb Patch
The edible yellow blossoms, seeds, feathery leaves, pollen, roots, and stems have long been prized for their robust, anise-like fragrance and flavor, and their usefulness as ingredients in cooking, magical potions, and traditional medicine.If you grow the common type, you can prevent its spread by removing flower heads before they run to seed.Remember to consult with your local agricultural extension service before adding fennel to your herb garden.F. vulgare has upright, branching growth, finely feathered green leaves, and yellow blossoms in flattened “umbels,” resembling those of other Apiaceae family members.The dulce type has even sweeter seeds that offer the best flavor when pressed to extract their aromatic essential oils.F. vulgare varieties are cool-weather crops that perform best when planted in either early spring, or late summer to fall.It found a welcome place in the kitchen, where the stems, leaves, and fruits were used in recipes to mask poor quality food with the pleasant aroma exuded by its aromatic compounds.Throughout the Middle Ages, traditional practitioners believed it was capable of curing ailments ranging from anti-inflammatory to GI and pulmonary problems.In superstitious circles, the mere presence of the herb was thought to ward off evil spirits and render witches’ spells ineffective.By the 1700s, the familiar herb was classified as F. vulgare Mill, after English botanist and gardener Phillip Miller.However, by the 1800s, French critic, novelist, and journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr decried the herb in his A Tour Round My Garden, in which he stated in his section on fennel, “At the end of three or four hundred years it was discovered that this had never cured anybody.”.In modern times, India has taken the lead worldwide in commercial fennel production, and seeds are readily available for home garden planting.If you want to grow fennel in the spring, it’s best to start seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last frost date for your region.Also, because of the temperamental taproot, it’s wise to use seed starter cells that biodegrade, and transplant them in their entirety to the garden after the danger of frost has passed.If you don’t know the composition or pH of the earth in your garden, conduct a soil test through your local agricultural extension service, and amend as needed with compost or other rich organic matter, sand for better drainage, and lime to sweeten overly acidic soil.However, avoid soggy soil, as it makes seedlings prone to a fatal fungal condition called “damping off,” which causes them to fall over and die.Let them acclimate to the outdoors by remaining in their seed starter pots for a day or two to harden off before transplanting into the garden.They are also susceptible to “tip burn,” a condition in which insufficient watering may inhibit calcium uptake and cause the edges of the layers to turn brown.Avert trouble with proper watering and harvest when the bulbs are young and about tennis ball sized, as opposed to older and larger.Ken Adams and Dan Drost of the Utah University Extension recommend using three tablespoons of a 21-0-0 (NPK) fertilizer for every 10 feet of rows planted.If you are growing Florence types you can keep the bulbs snowy white by mounding soil or mulch up around them when the vegetables first begin to swell.Adding mulch over the top of the bulb-like roots of the Florence varieties ensure that they remain white and more satisfying in culinary endeavors.If there is, you can snip the ends off the foliage to prevent bud formation, seed drop, and potentially invasive growth.If you should have a particularly warm spell, plants may “bolt” or suddenly go to seed, causing maturity to come to a grinding halt.And finally, weed the garden regularly to reduce competition for water, deter pests, and inhibit moisture buildup that can lead to disease, especially of a fungal nature.Find bronze fennel seeds from True Leaf Market in a variety of packet sizes.Florence Don’t forget to blanch the snowy bulbs with soil or mulch to keep them from browning in the sun.Orion At 24 inches tall, this hybrid is one of the more compact bulb varieties, appreciated for being less leggy than taller cultivars.When you start with quality seed, cultivate during cool weather, provide rich soil that drains well, don’t overwater, and keep the garden free of weeds, pests and disease issues should be minimal.You may find that rabbits take quite an interest in your plants, but deer and groundhogs don’t seem to care for its aroma.If you decide you just can’t share, either pick them off by hand, or try adding a few attractions to the yard like a bird feeder or an inviting birdbath, and let avian visitors help keep them in check.These are primarily fungal conditions, with the exception of downy mildew, which is caused by a water mold called an oomycete.In light of this possibility, I recommend not taking the advice of some gardeners who suggest planting fennel beside rose bushes so the swallowtail caterpillars can eat the aphids that often plague them.You can pick the tender young shoots of common varieties to enjoy as tasty microgreens, while mature leaves are exceptional when chopped finely as a fresh herb.When harvesting, try not to take more than one-third of the entire plant at once to avoid shocking it into bolting, or prematurely running to seed.Plants may be able to tolerate a light frost, but if there’s a hard freeze predicted, harvest what you can in a hurry, including digging up the roots to use as you would carrots, if you’re so inclined.I like to slice the bulbs of Florence types in sections about an inch thick, and store them covered in water in an airtight container in the fridge.You can also store whole bulbs in the fridge for three to five days, or up to a week and a half if you place a damp paper towel over them.Snip off the feathery foliage you want for use in salads and as fragrant garnishes, or toss it into savory cooked dishes as you would with dill.Pollen scraped and gathered from dry flowers saves well in a sealed jar for approximately two years.From flowers, foliage, and pollen, to bulbs, seeds, roots, and the extraction of essential oils, F.
vulgare varieties offer much to the home cook.And, the aromatic essential oils released from the chemical compounds, including anethole and fenchole, do indeed possess anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and promote digestion, just as the ancients believed.If you’ve never liked brussels sprouts, then you haven’t tried them al dente, cooked with bacon, and flavored with the taste of fennel and fresh dill. .
Foeniculum vulgare Bronze Fennel
Spanish explorers of the 1600's knew they would need to bring herb seeds with them to plant in the new world if they wanted to feel truly at home.Today, tall wispy spires of green Sweet Fennel can still be seen along Interstate 101 which traces that legendary route.With a height of four feet and a breadth almost as great, Bronze Fennel makes a perfect back of the border plant for cottage gardens.If you want to collect the seeds (a prize ingredient in Italian sausage), just leave that flowering stalk.Jim Long, herbal chef and cookbook author, makes this tasty fennel stuffing for trout.He also makes a tasty quick salad dressing by adding a couple fennel leave into a blender with some oil, vinegar, parsley, and garlic chives. .
To cook it whole, cut out the tough central core from the bottom, leaving a cone-shaped cavity, or slice if you prefer.Freshly cut fennel should be wrapped in damp kitchen paper and stored in the fridge.You can find fennel all year round, but it’s best from the start of June to the end of September.This impressive looking dish is deceptively easy to make and showcases fennel’s subtle aniseed flavour.When the summer comes around, embrace our favourite piece of kit and try our barbecued fennel with black olive dressing.Chargrilling brings out vibrant flavours in veg and it’s an easy method to master.Enjoy the spicy Indian-inspired flavours of our fresh and light fennel & carrot salad.This healthy side dish is full of colour and texture from the sprinkling of chopped nuts.This recipe makes a great accompaniment to your favourite curry, or anything with plenty of heat.This easy veggie dinner takes just 15 mins to prepare and it’s adaptable too. .