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In season late winter: Fennel

Fennel, also known as Florence fennel, has a characteristic aniseed aroma. The delicate leaves are feathery and are often mistaken for the herb dill.

Buying

Choose bulbs that are firm and crisp, with no browning to the outer leaves. The fennel tops (if still attached) should be bright green, perky and not slimy.

Storing

Keep fennel bulbs in the fridge, in a plastic bag or vegetable compartment. Keep separate so its aroma doesn’t affect other vegetables.

Nutrition

Fennel is a source of vitamin C which is useful for growth and repair of body tissues and folate, needed for healthy blood cell production. 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.

Using

  • Slice off the base of the bulb and cut off feathery stalks about 1-2 centimetres above the bulb. Remove any tough outer layers. Halve or quarter lengthwise, leave baby fennel whole. Reserve the foliage to garnish or to finish cooked dishes.
  • Thinly slice fennel, season and toss with flat-leaf parsley, segmented oranges and mustard vinaigrette.
  • Mix fennel into a green salad with flaked smoked fish such as snapper, kahawai or salmon.
  • In an ovenproof dish toss fennel with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with tinfoil and bake until tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
  • Roast fennel with vegetables such as capsicums, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, celeriac and turnips.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sprinkle fennel seeds over potatoes before roasting, or add finely chopped fennel to a potato bake or mash.
  • 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.
First published: Aug 2012



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