Market Watch: Work Fennel into Your Dishes from Bulb to Frond
If you don’t think you’re a fan of fennel, it’s the perfect time of year to give this remarkable veggie another chance. Head to the farmers market and pick up these sweet and delicate young bulbs while the getting’s good.
These edible bulbs of fennel are referred to as the "Florence" or "finocchio" variety. Don’t be turned off by the anise descriptor often attached to this member of the carrot family. Fennel’s licorice essence is extremely subtle and becomes even more subdued when cooked.
Fennel also contains plentiful amounts of vitamins and minerals, including A, C, folate, calcium and potassium. One cup has fewer than 30 calories but 3 grams of hunger-fighting fiber.
What to Do with Fennel
There are more ways to use fennel in your kitchen than you might think. The bulb, stalks and feathery fronds are all edible and taste slightly different from one another.
Raw fennel bulb is best thinly sliced with a sharp knife or mandoline and tossed with freshly squeezed citrus juice, fruity olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse salt. The fresh and bright flavor complements fish and poultry and also plays very nicely with nuts, citrus fruit and leafy green vegetables. Cooked fennel features an unmistakable nutty sweetness; pair it up with fresh tomatoes or a touch of cheese.
Use chopped stalks in recipes that call for celery; it’s especially delightful with a roasted chicken.
Last but not least, the delicate green fronds (which look much like dill) can be plucked, chopped and added as a finishing herbal touch to soups, chicken and tuna salads, dips or pretty much any other recipe that calls for fennel.
Recipes to Try:
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.