Fennel is a vegetable and herb used widely in Europe but often not as well known here in the States. Even those of us who enjoy the mild anise taste of fennel seeds may never encounter a fresh fennel bulb until one shows up in our CSA box!
Fresh fennel is a beautiful plant, with delicate fronds gracing the top, and a large bulb that looks and tastes rather like overgrown celery, but with that spicy fragrance of anise. It's marvelous braised and in soups, but we love it fresh too. We have a favorite recipe for fennel coming up a little later today, and after the jump there are more great dishes from around the web...
When preparing fennel for fresh dishes or salads, a mandoline is almost necessary. It's difficult to slice the tough fennel bulb thinly enough to chew easily. We use our chef's knife and carefully shave it, but we'd prefer a mandoline. In fact, the thin shaved slices coming off a mandoline converted one of us to fennel love...
Sopa de funcho is a traditional Portugese homestyle soup that takes most of its rich flavor from fennel - when the weather gets colder we want to try it. Here the fennel goes into a Tomato-Fennel Salsa to serve with linguine and clams (did we mention fennel's spicy-sweet taste is great with fish?) - and then there's this easy Fennel Mint Salad. Try our Roasted Mahi Mahi with Fennel, Olives and Oranges too.
And fennel isn't just for savory dishes; fennel seeds go into these Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes with Fennel Meringue Frosting.
Are you getting fennel in your box? What are you doing with it?
(Image credit: Potomac Vegetable Farms)