So what is that quirky vegetable that looks like a hybrid of a white onion sprouting celery stalks with feathery green fronds on top? It’s fennel!
COOK’S NOTES: Once the core has been removed, the bulb can be slivered and eaten raw, adding crispness to salads. But my favorite way to serve fennel is to grill or bake it with olive oil and garlic, creating a caramelized savory and slightly sweet delight. In fact, all parts of fennel are used, from the crisp bulb to the delicate fronds and sweet seeds, you’ll find some part of fennel to love. It has a very mild anise, or licorice, flavor that has been used to flavor sauces and sausages. Fennel is often included in “mirepoix”, the classic combination of diced onion and celery that is used to form the base of French soups and sauces. It is featured in the classic fisherman’s soup of France, bouillabaisse.
KEY PHYTONUTRIENTS, PHYTONUTRIENTS AND THE HEALTH CONDITIONS IT MAY BENEFIT: Fennel delivers more than flavor to foods. It has been revered for its medicinal properties throughout the Mediterranean, India and Asia. Fennel contains the powerful phytonutrient “anethole”, which appears to block inflammation and oxidation, linked to a range of chronic degenerative conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. In animal studies, its daily ingestion inhibited the formation of tumors, prompting researchers to suggest that it is likely to reduce the incidence of cancer in humans.
Fennel has several other potential benefits to health. It is rich in phytoestrogens, natural plant compounds that fit into our estrogen receptors and block “xeno-estrogens” (environmental toxins that mimic estrogen) from exerting their toxic effect. Long regarded a digestive, fennel tea or oil has been used to calm colic and soothe indigestion. In India, the seeds are chewed after a meal to tame bad breath. Fennel is packed with vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and fiber.
- Fennel, Arugula, Avocado and Orange salad
- Marinara Sauce
- Tagine of Roasted Fennel, Yukon Gold Potatoes and Red Onion
- Roasted chicken with root vegetables and tomatoes
- Minestrone soup