In Season: Fennel

Everyone in my family thought they didn’t like fennel until I showed them some easy and delicious ways to prepare it. This cool and crisp veggie is on my weekly shopping list for the summer.

Everyone in my family thought they didn’t like fennel until I showed them some easy and delicious ways to prepare it. Now this cool, crisp veggie is on my weekly shopping list all summer long.

What, Where & How

A member of the parsley family, fennel is an oddly shaped, layered bulb that has multiple bright green stalks and delicate feathery leaves called “fronds” -- every bit of it is edible. If you've ever had fennel, you probably remember that it tastes like anise (or licorice), especially when raw. But don't get scared off by that description! I am no fan of licorice but I absolutely adore fennel. It’s all about how you prepare it and what flavors you match it up with.

These versatile bulbs started popping up at my East Coast farmers market about three weeks ago. Available from early July to early fall, “Florence” is the most common edible variety. Most of the fennel sold in the U.S comes from California and Arizona.

Dried fennel seed, a classic ingredient in Italian sausage, has a nutty anise flavor. My Italian grandfather always said one his tomato sauce secrets was adding a pinch of ground fennel seed to it.

Nutrition Facts

One cup of raw fennel has fewer than 30 calories, 10% of your daily fiber and potassium and about 20% of your vitamin C needs. Fennel also contains special phytochemicals (plant compounds) that can settle an upset stomach and aid in digestion.

What To Do With Fennel

Raw fennel has a great crunch. I love to slice it super-thin and curb some of its licorice flavor with fresh citrus juice, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. When they're in season, grapefruit and blood oranges are my favorite citrus to pair with fennel. Tomatoes and a lemony vinaigrette work well in the summer months.

When cooked, fennel becomes sweet and tender and loses that sharp anise flavor. I chop and sauté it with onions in my roasted beet risotto or toss thick slices with other veggies, some olive oil, salt and pepper on a sheet pan for roasting. Cooked fennel goes great with fish and chicken dishes. Ina Garten’s Roasted Striped Bass uses fresh fennel along with a splash of fennel liquor called Pernod -- to die for!

Shopping Tip: Choose fennel with tight, white or pale green bulbs and bright green stalks and fronds. To store, remove stalks and fronds from bulb and wrap separately in plastic bags; keep in the refrigerator drawer for 5 to 7 days.

Next Up

Why We Love Fennel

Show some love to this under-appreciated veggie from the parsley family. Don’t be turned off by its licorice-like flavor. It all has to do with the way you prepare it.

In Season: Grapes

Grapes are in season right now. Get them fresh off the vine and try some of our favorite ways to prepare them.

In Season: Cranberries

This fall favorite makes a mean sauce, but has so much more potential. Read up on this red gem-- one of only three fruits native to the United States.

In Season: Mango

I’m excited to start cooking up my favorite dish—mango chicken! These bright and tangy fruit are popping up at a market near you. Read up on how to use them and the best way to slice them.

In Season: Tomatoes

These juicy red veggies (technically fruit) are at peak season right now and come in so many varieties. Here’s the low-down on the common ones you may find and a recipe for a simple roasted tomato sauce -- perfect for pasta or bread dipping.

Seasoning Wok Pans

Find 1000s of Food Network's best recipes from top chefs, shows and experts. And watch videos demonstrating recipe prep and cooking techniques.

In Season: Pineapple

This delightful fruit brightens up savory and sweet dishes—especially during the dreary winter season. Read up on the many benefits of this tropical treasure.

In Season: Kumquats

You've probably heard the name but have may have only tried this fruit a couple of times. Get to know these lesser-known members of the citrus family.