Don’t let the term Foeniculum Vulgare put you off. It’s only fennel we’re talking about. Some people don’t welcome the idea of cooking with fennel, but wait, don’t be in a hurry to dismiss this culinary delight and medicinal herb rolled into one. Fennel has an incredible depth of flavors and a myriad uses so it satisfies the palate at the same time that it creates a healing environment in the body and for this reason it has been adopted and adapted by many cultures around the world.
Historically fennel grew wild along the Mediterranean shores. These days however, it has become commonplace in England, France and Italy and in places as far flung as New Zealand and India, where the seeds as well are used in cooking, and for the preparation of teas. Fennel has been looked upon as a cure for a variety of ailments from colds, headaches and failing eyesight to gastric discomfort. But whether fennel is used as a cure for winter sniffles or simply as a dinner vegetable, it is likely to entice your tastebuds and add that extra bit of intensity and flavor to your meal that will be simply irresistible. So here are some simple ideas and recipes to bring home the qualities of this incredible vegetable.
Cut the fennel bulb and remove the bitter core. If you are planning to use it raw then be sure to fine-chop it so as to not let the aniseed flavor overpower the palate. Whole fennel can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator.
For a delectable fennel soup, coarse chop three fennel bulbs after washing and trimming. Saute the fennel in a generous quantity of butter with a chopped onion until the fennel is slightly browned. Pour in some stock of your choice, add one potato (diced) and cook until both the fennel and the potato are soft. Blend the mixture in a food processor and put the puree back in the saucepan and add 150 ml of cream. Season and enjoy! If however, you want to keep it lean, then try adding a dash of coconut cream instead of full cream or just enjoy on its own.
For fennel salsa, throw in some diced fennel along with fine-chopped fresh parsley, freshly ground pepper, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and ¼ th cup of extra virgin olive oil.
For fennel salad add fennel pieces with chopped walnuts, red onion thinly sliced and shavings of parmesan. Serve on a base of rocket leaves and raddichio and add a dressing of your choice, although chefs recommend a sherry vinegar dressing.
There are numerous other recipes that you could try with fennel. Be as creative as you like and remember to go with your gut. Have it your way always so that you can have your fennel and eat it too!