Learn About Fennel

Author: Chef Sydney

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What is Fennel?

Fennel is an herb originating from the Mediterranean and is related to the carrot.  Fennel has a medium white bulb and green wispy, feathery leaves.  The leaves are considered the herb, but the bulb is a vegetable.  The bulb has a crunchy texture when raw.  When cooked, the bulb has a soft, delicate texture.  Fennel seeds are also a popular ingredient in certain dishes and are the fruits of the flowering part of the fennel plant.

What Does Fennel Taste Like?

Fennel has a light, somewhat licorice flavor.  When added to other foods, the licorice flavor is not usually tasted.

Learn About Fennel
Fennel bulbs on a thick brown sack.

How Do You Eat Fennel?

The leaves, bulb, and seeds of fennel are edible. The fronds, the herb portion of fennel, are used to season dishes. Pesto, orzo, and soup are commonly flavored with fennel fronds. The bulb, the vegetable portion of fennel, is frequently roasted on its own or with other vegetables. The bulb may also be eaten raw. Garlic and parmesan pair well with roasted fennel. Fennel seeds are most often used in spice blends, rubs, and crusts for meats.

Where Can You Buy Fennel?

Look for fennel in the chilled produce section almost year-round in the grocery store.  Both whole and powdered fennel seeds are located in the spice aisle.

How Do You Store Fennel?

Cut fresh fennel fronds about 3 inches from the bulb and store the bulb in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  It should last 3-5 days.  Store fennel seeds in a sealed, airtight container, such as their original spice jar, in a cool, dry place.

Fun Facts About Fennel

Some people enjoy tea made out of fennel seeds and fronds.  Fennel plants produce many yellow flowers depending on the size of the plant.

Did You Know?

Fennel seeds spread so well that fennel grows wild along roadsides in the United States.  Because of this, fennel is classified as an invasive species.

Recipes Using Fennel

Roasted Fennel

Roast the fennel bulb to create a delicious side dish. Start by removing the leaves, then slice the bulb into quarters. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake until the fennel is fork tender.

Fennel Salad

Fennel salad uses the fennel bulb as the base for the salad. Cut the bulb into thin slices. Mix the slices with olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, diced red onions, and shaved parmesan. Top with fresh parsley.

Pasta with Fennel

Begin by roasting fennel in the oven. Prepare and drain shaped pasta according to package directions. Incorporate fennel, cherry tomatoes, feta, the cooked pasta, and basil leaves in a bowl. Combine olive oil, salt, and oregano and drizzle over the top.

Fennel Frond Pesto

Use fennel fronds to make a tasty new pesto recipe. Using a food processor, combine fennel fronds, olive oil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Pulse until the sauce is chunky. Serve over cooked pasta or as a dipping sauce.

Cheesy Herb Frittata

Make a delicious cheesy herb frittata for breakfast. Whisk together eggs, water, fennel fronds, salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, and cheddar cheese until combined. Pour the egg mixture into a preheated cast iron skillet and begin cooking. When the frittata begins to firm up around the edges, place in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until fully cooked.

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