Get to Know Fennel, Plus a Recipe for Salmon With Tomato-Fennel Salsa
Fennel is underutilized by many home cooks. I'm not sure why because it’s fresh (ever seen canned fennel?), uniquely flavored and super nutritious. Maybe some Fennel 101 will get you stoked:
Fennel belongs to the carrot and parsley family and is a cousin of cumin, dill, caraway and anise (hence its subtle licorice flavor). The bulb is crisp and can be sautéed, stewed, braised, grilled or eaten raw. The bulb is a unique and fresh addition to warm or cold salads, vegetable and pasta dishes and risottos and is an excellent palate-cleanser between and after meals. The leaves (fronds) are delicate and taste somewhat like dill, making them the perfect edible garnish. Fennel seeds are often used to flavor Italian sausages and meatballs.
Like many spices, fennel contains a unique combination of phytonutrients, including the flavonoids rutin and quercetin, plus additional compounds that give it powerful antioxidant properties. But the most fascinating phytonutrient in fennel is anethole, repeatedly shown to reduce inflammation and prevent cancer.
Now that you know the scoop, here’s a recipe to get fennel on your plate tonight. I love to put fennel in salsa. Its anise flavor partners perfectly with sweet tomatoes, fresh cilantro and tangy lime and makes an excellent topping for salmon. Not in the mood for salmon? The salsa also works well with chicken, steak and shrimp.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon on prepared pan and roast 12-15 minutes, until fork-tender.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, fennel, cilantro, lime juice, cumin and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve salmon with salsa spooned over top.