Fennel – Enjoy it raw or cooked

What is Fennel?

Fennel is a plant whose leaves look very much like dill (thin, bright green fronds).   It has a bulbous base that looks much like a celery and all parts of it are edible.

If you have never tried fennel, it has a sweet, anise-like flavor and fragrance.  Rather than making your prepared dish taste like licorice, though, fennel imparts a light, spring-like quality to foods.  Fennel is also good for you.  It contains Vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and calcium.  It can be enjoyed raw, or cooked (roasted or sautéed.)

Fennel


Enjoy it raw

Thin slices of raw fennel give a fresh, cool crunch to green salads or a coleslaw. One of my favorite salads combines thinly sliced fennel with arugula, baby spinach, juicy grapefruit segments, mango, cucumber and avocado. It’s light and refreshing, and I love the combination of the crispy fennel, sweet mango and the tart grapefruit flavor.

Enjoy it cooked

Fennel is very versatile; it lends itself to almost any cooking method (roasted, braised, sautéed ). It’s delicious roasted at high temperatures, which turn the edges brown and crisp. One recipe I have tried is to combine fennel with fingerling potatoes along with a bit of onion and garlic. Lightly tossing this mixture in olive oil and roast it until the potatoes are tender and the fennel begins to lightly brown.

It’s equally delicious braised in chicken stock and finished with a sharp Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

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.

How to trim fennel

  1. Cut off the fennel stalks at their base, where they join the bulb. The stalks can be reserved to use when making a stock. The feathery fronds have a wonderful anise flavor and can be used just as any other herb. Add them as a garnish to a dish for a hint of anise. They are great on potatoes, fish or try adding them to salads, soups or marinades.
  2. Lightly trim the base of the bulb. Do not remove too much of the base, or the fennel layers will not hold together when you cut the bulb into wedges. Trim away any bruised areas. If the outer layer feels tough or spongy, remove it.
  3. When using raw fennel, it’s important to slice it thinly. Large chunks of fennel can be fibrous, therefore, cut the bulbs lengthwise into slender slivers or crosswise into thin half moons . A mandolin is a great way to achieve nice thin slices.

I hope I’ve conveyed how wonderful fennel is.  If you have never tried it, I encourage you to. If you already love it, here are recipes for you to try.

Low Carb Citrus Salad
A light and fruity low carb salad. The flavor combination balances out any bitterness from the arugula and makes for a delicious side salad. The fennel pairs perfectly with grapefruit, mango, avocado and lime juice.
Check out this recipe
Low Carb Citrus Salad
Fennel Roasted Potatoes
Fennel and fingerling potatoes roasted to create a simple side dish.
Check out this recipe
Roasted Fennel and Fingerling Potatoes

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