What is Fennel?
Fennel is a spice, herb and vegetable. It is an incredibly versatile flowering plant that belongs to the carrot family. The entire plant is edible of which we consume 3 of its parts on a regular basis.
Seed: The seeds of the flower are dried and sold as a spice, whole or ground into a powder.
Frond: It’s delicate leaves resemble that of dill which is not surprising considering they are related and is the herb part of its versatility.
Bulb: This part of the fennel grows above ground and is consumed as a vegetable. For those who are not so familiar with the fennel bulb can find it intimidating but not to worry, we’ll show you how to use them in our recipes.
What Does Fennel Taste Like?
Flavour: Fennel is renowned for having sweet liquorice flavours and is very aromatic. Its fragrance ranges across all its parts hence it is such a popular ingredient. If you dry toast your fennel seeds you’ll get an incredible smell wafting through your kitchen while the aromatic fragrance from slicing raw fennel is unlike any other vegetable.
Texture: Fennel fronds are delicate to touch and make for excellent garnishes. They are bright green and can be described as feather-like in appearance.
The fennel bulb is white in colour and has layers which envelop each other, a little like an onion.
Each layer has lines or very timid grooves so if you run your finger across the fennel, you’ll feel slight bumps. It is crispy and crunchy with a tough core that is usually removed before consumption.
What Goes Well with Fennel?
Fruit and Vegetables
Apples, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, celeriac, corn, cucumber, garlic, grape, grapefruit, green bean, guava, kohlrabi, lemon, mushroom, olive, orange, peach, pear, pomegranate, potatoes, tomatoes, watercress, watermelon.
Herbs, Nuts & Spices
Dill, elderflower, thyme, chickpea, cumin, chervil.
Protein and Other
Chicken, fish, mussels, sausage.
How to Use Fennel in Salads?
Fennel is best eaten raw. Cut it in half, remove the core and then shave it with a mandoline and incorporate it with other ingredients as suggested above.
You can also grill, saute or roast it which in turn gives you a sweeter flavour as it caramalises. I suggest cutting them into wedges if you’re going to put it in the oven as the thin slices might just disintegrate and lose its form over time.
As for the fennel fronds, they are a great garnish or a herb not only from a flavour perspective but they really are so pretty. A great alternative to the usual suspects such as coriander and parsley for garnish. Besides, this way it doesn’t go to waste.
Salad Recipes with Fennel
Colourful plant-based salad with crunchy raw fennel and courgette ribbons tossed together with sweet zippy citrus flavours. Easy to make and refreshingly light side salad for spring summer gatherings.
The citrus yuzu jam creates a delicate aromatic dressing that provides a perfect counterpoint to the crunchy shaved Fennel and Apple Salad. Topped with fresh succulent prawns and salty tobiko, this is an exquisite salad!
The combination of salty bresaola, anise-like fennel and orange citrus sweetness, makes this salad a crowd pleaser. This Charred Fennel Salad with the stunning look of the burrata will definitely get the oohs and ahhs from your guests!
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