What We’re Cooking With Now: Fennel
Looking for adventure in the kitchen? Our monthly What We're Cooking with Now post features a fresh produce ingredient, explains how to find the market's finest, and includes a recipe to try at home.
Why: Aside from its delicious, licorice-like flavor, the nutrients in fennel have a wide range of health benefits. The mineral content in fennel contributes to building and maintaining bone structure, as it is high in phosphate, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, potassium, selenium, choline and vitamin K.
Shopping Tip: Avoid spotted, bruised or browning bulbs. Look for firm, white bulbs with a slight pale-green color. The stalks should be green, and the leaves should be straight and bundled together without wilting. Fennel stays fresh in the fridge for 4 – 6 days, but it loses flavor over time, so consume it as close to harvesting as possible.
Preparation: Cut the stalks off the bulb at the base where they sprout. The stalks are very fibrous and tough, but they can be used in making broths or soups and can also be sliced thin like celery and blanched, roasted or eaten raw. Cut the bulbs vertically, and cut out the hard core from the base. The rest of the bulb can be sliced thinly or into large chunks and then roasted, sautéed, braised or eaten raw.
Recipe: Fennel Tapenade
2 cups mixed olives
4 cups chopped fennel bulbs, cores removed
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 bunch of parsley, stems included
6 sprigs of sage, stems removed
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
Cut the stalks from the bulb of fennel. Save the stalks and cut into smaller pieces for garnish, or roast in an oven and serve with your favorite mixed vegetables.
Sauté the fennel bulb pieces until brown and soft. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with red wine vinegar and cook until liquid has evaporated. Let cool.
Put the fennel garlic mix into a food processor with the parsley, sage and black pepper. Pulse until finely chopped but not a purée.
Spoon tapenade on a piece of toasted crusty bread, and drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil.