VegBox Recipes

Fennel

Fennel Some people find the aniseed flavour of the fennel bulb too strong, but chances are it's because they haven't discovered the right recipe yet. Discover how to enjoy this vegetable both raw and cooked.

In Season?
From May to October
Buy?
When it looks crispy and firm with no blemishes on mushy bits on the white part.
Store?
In the fridge for about a week.
Freeze?
No
Cook?
Raw in salads, lightly cooked or roasted / grilled

More Fennel Information

FennelI have to admit that I wasn't sure about fennel for a while. Something about eating it far too often and over-cooked in a previous chapter of life had put me off, big time!

So when my mother-in-law arrived one weekend, proudly clutching a large bulb of fresh fennel, I braced myself for another soggy aniseed experience.

But I was wrong!

The salad she created bore no resemblance to the fennel fiascos of my past. And I have to say it got me almost addicted to this fresh-tasting, delicate, crunchy vegetable.

So if you're open to being converted, you could try:

Fennel, orange & watercress salad

Finocchio or Florence Fennel has been cultivated since before Ancient Greek and Roman times.

Florence fennel grows up to 2 metres high, with the white bulb at the base being harvested as a vegetable and the feathery leaves being used as a herb seasoning.

Fennel is actually part of the same family as parsley, caraway, cumin and coriander, giving it a bit of an identity crisis.

Around the world you will find variously the bulb, stem, leaves, flowers and seeds being used raw or cooked.

What To Do With Fennel

Fennel is delicious both raw or lightly cooked – avoid overcooking.

For a main course you should allow one head per person. For a salad, allow 1/3 to 1/2 head per person.

Consider using the fronds for garnish.

If you are using in a salad, you might want to try chopping it very finely or using a mandolin to slice it with.

Try warming the seeds for 1-2 minutes in a dry frying pan over a low heat, then crush to use as a seasoning.

Little Known Fennel Facts

  • It was prized in Greek times because it was considered to help people stay slim - not surprising as it is filling, but very low in calories.


  • In Anglo-Saxon times it was considered to be a sacred herb, renowned for its medicinal properties.


  • In more recent history, the Puritans referred to Fennel as the "meeting seed" as it was a favourite practice to chew the seeds during meetings. Today, Fennel Seed is widely used in India as an after-dinner breath freshener and also to help in digestion.


  • Flies are said to dislike fennel, and powdered fennel has been used to keep flies away in kennels and stables.


  • Be careful not to eat too much of it, as it's a diuretic and you'll spend the day in the bathroom!


Fennel And Potato Bake
This fennel bake recipe is great as a side or as a main with a salad. It's a comforting dish for an rainy weather and the combination of flavours helps make the fennel's aniseed more subtle.
Ingredients
Serves 2 as a main dish

4 large potatoes (or 6 small), scrubbed
1 bulb Fennel
2 gloves garlic, crushed or minced
300ml semi-skimmed milk, or 300ml single cream, or 150ml of each
1 free range egg
butter, for greasing
salt and freshly ground pepper, nutmeg to taste
(optional) tomato slices to garnish
Method
  1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190�C


  2. Slice the potatoes and fennel very thinly - ideally using a mandolin


  3. Grease a large baking dish with the butter and arrange the potato and fennel slices in alternative layers with garlic and lots of seasoning in between each layer


  4. Mix together the cream and / or milk, egg and nutmeg with lots more seasoning


  5. Pour the mixture over the vegetables already in the baking dish, cover and bake for about 1 ½ hours, removing the cover for the last 30 minutes until the top has browned nicely



Cupboard-To-Table

2 hours

Suggested Fennel Recipes

Beetroot and Fennel Salad With Sage Croutons

This recipe combines raw fennel and beetroot with freshly cooked sage croutons, halloumi cheese and an orange dressing, to make a deliciously crunchy summer salad.

Blue Cheese Baked Fennel

Roasted fennel is a great way of serving this vegetable, if you don't fancy it raw. By adding a blue cheese and seed topping, you're turning into so much more than a side dish.

Grind the seeds well in a coffee grinder, to form a breadcrumb-like texture.

If you don't have a grinder, you can pound them with a pestle & mortar or just chop them.

This recipe is delicious with a delicate blue cheese and works well with Dolcelatte or Cambozola. Avoid stronger cheeses such as Danish Blue or Stilton, as they could overpower the flavour of the fennel.

Fennel And Carrot Coleslaw

If you enjoy the slightly aniseed taste of fennel, then youll love this coleslaw. If youre not yet convinced, then rest assured that the carrots and other ingredients temper the aniseed and you might actually find you enjoy fennel!

Fennel And Potato Bake

This fennel bake recipe is great as a side or as a main with a salad. It's a comforting dish for an rainy weather and the combination of flavours helps make the fennel's aniseed more subtle.

Fennel, Orange And Watercress Salad

This is a delicious spring salad, when fennel and watercress are readily available and the freshest, juiciest oranges are available from the Med.

It's only recently that I've worked out how to cook fennel and I've discovered some delicious fennel recipes, of which this is my personal favourite.

I have to admit I wasn't a big fan of fennel, until my mother-in-law made this salad for me. It even persuaded my fussy-eater sister that fennel was worth eating!

Seasonal Spinach Salad

This recipe was submitted by "Tablet", a member of the Ooffoo community, as an entry to the Recipe Prize Draw, with the comment:

"This recipe can of course be eaten totally cold, without heating the fish or the spinach but seeing as it's colder outside it's nice to eat it warm. It takes about five minutes to prepare and will happily feed two of you very well. You can share it with more people if you provide some scrummy bread to go with it. Enjoy!"

Thanks, Tablet!

Got one? Send us your recipe!

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