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In season early winter: Fennel

Buying

Choose firm, round bulbs without bruises and with stems and leaves attached. Make sure leaves look fresh as wilting indicates the fennel is getting old.

Storing

Use fennel within five days. Refrigerate in the crisper in an airtight plastic bag or container. Keep separate so its aroma doesn’t affect other vegetables.

Preparation

Fennel is very versatile. All parts are edible and it can be eaten raw or cooked. Wash before using. Remove base, chop off the top, and peel off the harder outer layers. The bulb can be sliced or chopped, leaves can be used as a garnish, and seeds can be used to flavour dishes.

Nutrition

Fennel bulb will add fibre and fabulous phytochemicals found in plant foods. Herbs like fennel seed are rich in antioxidants and help add flavour, so you can cut salt usage.

4 quick ways with fennel

  1. Add flavour to grilled or roast meals, especially chicken or fish, by cutting a fennel bulb into long, thin slices and placing in a dish with onion, olive oil and lemon juice.
  2. For an exotic tasting dip, mix 1 chopped fennel bulb, fennel seeds, chopped red onion, grated cheese, lemon juice, and a pinch of fennel leaves with sour cream.
  3. Sprinkle fennel seeds over potatoes before roasting, or add finely chopped fennel to a potato bake or mash.
  4. To stuff fennel bulbs, simmer trimmed bulb in salted water, scoop out insides, and stuff with sautéed mixed vegetables, garlic, mushroom and mixed spices. Bake for 20 minutes.

Did you know? Fennel is technically classified as a herb. Fennel seed is widely used in India as an after-dinner breath freshener.

First published: Jun 2009



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