Produce of the Month Guide: Fennel
Produce of the Month Guide: Fennel is an informative guide on fennel, including benefits of fennel, how to cut fennel, and a round up of fennel recipes!
It seems like forever since my last produce guide. I intended to get this fennel produce guide published last month, but things got very hectic.
On the bright side, I’ve published two new fennel salads in the past month and have included them in the fennel recipe round up at the bottom of this post.
The more fennel recipes the better in my book! 🙂
Last month when I was working on the photos for this post, I took a poll on my Instagram stories asking people if they use fennel. 60% said they did not, which got me thinking that most people probably have no clue what fennel is or how to use it.
We worked with fennel a lot in cooking school, and it quickly became one of my favorite ingredients. It’s been a staple in my kitchen ever since, and I really hope that this post will help others want to try this special ingredient.
Produce of the Month Guide: Fennel
What is fennel?
Fennel is a bulbous vegetable that’s a member of the carrot family. It’s a very hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feather-like fronds, or leaves.
The fennel bulb is layers of vegetable similar to cabbage, but thicker and harder. The fronds are very delicate and may be used in salads and dishes as an herb would (think dill!). While the stalks are edible, they’re quite tough and aren’t widely used.
The origin of fennel is the mediterranean, and it has many culinary and medicinal uses. There are two types of fennel: Florence fennel has a white bulb, as pictured in this post, and Sweet fennel (anise) is used for seeds.
What is the taste of fennel?
The fennel bulb has a very mild, sweet anise flavor. It’s crunchy, crisp and bright, and is great raw in salads and slaws.
Fennel is absolutely delicious cooked as well. Like onions, fennel becomes melt in your mouth tender when roasted or braised, but with a much more mellow flavor. The flavor of fennel is so versatile and pairs well with beef, pork, chicken, lamb and fish.
The fronds are aromatic, tender, and have a mild anise flavor. They’re great as a garnish or chopped and used as an herb.
What is fennel used for?
As I mentioned above, the fennel bulb is used as a vegetable in a variety of dishes and the fronds may be used as an herb or garnish.
The seeds of the fennel plant are widely used as a spice. Fennel seed is featured in Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. In fact, fennel seed is one of the 5 spices included in Chinese 5 spice.
Fennel seeds are also used to make sausages and absinthe.
What are the health benefits of fennel?
Fennel is a good source of energy, as well as vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, zinc, niacin, calcium, potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C.
Fennel also has many medicinal uses, and is used to treat anemia, indigestion and constipation. It’s also believed to reduce heart disease, regulate blood pressure and improve brain function.
If you’d like to learn more, visit the reference at the bottom of this post and always talk to your doctor about any conditions that you may have.
How to grow fennel
Plant by seed in midsummer, or 60 days before first frost, for nice, full bulbs. Grow in full sun and in rich soil that gets plenty of moisture and has a near neutral pH. A combination of compost and organic planting mix is ideal.
I’ve never grown fennel to date, but it’s on my list to try this year!
Choosing and storing fennel
Choose fennel that is firm with bright green stalks and fronds, and a bulb that’s free from discoloration.
Fennel should be stored in the crisper drawer for up to 1 week. To save space, removing the stalks is a good idea if you’re not planning to use them. Just don’t forget to reserve the fronds!
I like to prep my fennel ahead and store it in an air tight container to add to my salads, etc. during the week.
How to cut fennel
Place the fennel on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, remove the stalk and the base of the fennel.
Stand the fennel upright and cut in half, then remove the core with the tip of your knife.
Slice thinly for salads, slaws or stir fries or cut into wedges for roasting!
Check out my How to Cut Fennel video below!
Try these delicious fennel recipes!
Arugula Salad with Fennel and Blood Oranges by Cooking with Curls
Fresh Pink Grapefruit Fennel Salad by Fearless Dining
Orange, Fennel and Pickled Onion Salad by Letty’s Kitchen
Golden Beet and Fennel Soup by The Roasted Root
Italian Sausage Tomato Orzo Soup by Amanda’s Cookin’
Red Kuri Squash and Fennel Soup with Savory Granola by Floating Kitchen
Fennel and Cabbage Slaw by The Roasted Root
Italian Parmesan Baked Fennel by An Italian In My Kitchen
Healthy Baked Catfish by One Dish Kitchen
Olive Oil Braised Chicken with Citrus, Fennel and Turmeric by The Little Ferraro Kitchen
One Pan Italian Chicken and Vegetables by The Lemon Bowl
Roasted Eggplant Fennel Pizza by Running to the Kitchen
Roasted Orange Chicken with Fennel by Foolproof Living
Slow Roast Leg of Lamb by My Kitchen Love
Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Fennel, Lemon and Rosemary by Healthy Seasonal Recipes
Spicy Fish Tacos with Fennel Slaw by Sidewalk Shoes
Spring Green Risotto with Peas, Asparagus and Fennel by The View From The Great Island
Tomato Herb and Beer Poached Cod with Caramelized Fennel by The Beeroness