Updated: Mar 26, 2022
Fennel is an aromatic, #crunchy, and sweet vegetable related to parsley, carrots, and dill. It's a white or green bulb with stalks and feathery leaves (known as fronds) on top that grow flowers producing fennel seeds. It is often mistaken for anise with its licorice aroma. Fennel is freshly available in the fall through spring.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
Select fennel that is medium-sized, heavy, firm, and a white or pale green in color. The stalks should be straight and close together with bright green fronds. Avoid those that are very large, have spots, or appear shriveled. The bulbs should be free of cracks. Avoid those with flowering buds as this indicates age.
Storing the fennel in the crisper of your fridge will keep it fresh for three to four days. Separate the stalks from the bulb and store them in separate plastic bags. If you won't be using it right away, you can blanch and freeze it, or dry it to be stored in an alright container.
HOW TO PREPARE
The bulb, stalks, and fronds are all #edible. Cut the stalks away from the bulb and cut each piece however is needed. It is helpful to slice the bulb like an onion -vertically to remove its core as well as remove the outer layer. The flavor of licorice can be overwhelming for some, but cooking it can tone that down. The bulb can be eaten raw and are common in soups or stews. The fronds can be used as an herb, Fennel is common with fish, sausage, and Italian or Middle Eastern cooking.
A LITTLE HERE, A LITTLE THERE
Thinly slice the bulbs and add raw to salads
Chop the fronds for egg or potato salad
Grind up your favorite sausage recipe and sprinkle in fennel seeds
Cut the bulb in rings or lay a stalk on top of salmon while it cooks.
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Boil fennel for six to eight minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and dry, and place in a greased baking dish. In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, nutmeg, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until smooth. While stirring, gradually add the cream. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thickened, one to two minutes. Gradually add shredded cheese, stirring to melt. Pour cheese sauce over the fennel and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until golden brown and bubbly.
Source: Taste of Home
WHAT DO YOU GET FROM THEM?
Fennel is a source of #Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, folate, and #calcium. It's been used medicinally for anemia, inflammation, indigestion, and gastrointestinal issues. It can also be used as a breath freshener or antacid.