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Fennel

An aromatic, beautiful plant, fennel produces leaves, stalks and seeds that are all edible. Popular in Mediterranean cooking—and Italian cuisine in particular—fennel has an affinity for fish and seafood. It's also a lovely substitute for celery in soups and stews and a tasty addition to omelets, risottos, and casseroles. The taste mellows with cooking, so don't shy away from the anise-like aroma at the outset—sauté, bake, braise, roast or grill and enjoy!

Flavor Profile

  • Slightly sweet, very aromatic
  • Similar to licorice and anise
  • Crunchy texture, like celery

How to Choose a Good One

  • Choose fennel with clean, firm, pale green or whitish bulbs
  • Avoid bruising splitting or spotting
  • Choose small, heavy bulbs
  • Stalks should be crisp with bright green feathery fronds
  • Stalks should be fairly straight and not splayed out too much
  • The plant should have a fragrant aroma
  • Store in refrigerator crisper for up to four days; fennel loses flavor as it ages

Peak Season

  • Fall through early spring

Nutritional Highlights

  • Excellent source of vitamin C
  • Very good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, folate, and molybdenum
  • Good source of niacin, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper

General Use

  • Popular in Italian and French cooking
  • Used to flavor the Florentine salami finocchiona
  • Sauté, bake, braise, roast or grill
  • Side dish with other vegetables or fish
  • Sandwiches
  • Soups and broths
  • Casseroles
  • Salads
  • Serve raw with dip
  • Main ingredient in absinthe
  • Flavoring for toothpaste
  • Omelets and frittatas
  • Risotto
  • Leaves can be used as garnish
  • Leaves can be used as a bed for roasted poultry and meats

Complements

  • Onions, avocadoes, potatoes, radishes, artichokes
  • Salmon, scallops, other fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Grains
  • Yogurt
  • Mint, cumin
  • Citrus fruit, apples, melon
  • Chicken
  • Ham, Italian sausages, meatballs
  • Pasta