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


  • 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