Raw, braised, grilled, sautéed. This versatile vegetable is a favorite in our house. Most often we’ll have it raw in salads, but here are two recipes we have enjoyed this winter.
A relative of parsley, dill and coriander, this white bulb with vibrant, feathery green fronds is fragrantly beautiful. Because of its mild licorice flavor it is often referred to as anise. But in ancient Greece fennel was called ‘marathon’ since it grew freely in the fields where the Battle of Marathon was fought. Drawings and statues depict Pheidippides holding a fennel frond, which was reported to have been given to him after notifying the Greeks about the Spartan invasion. Who’s Pheidippides? Marathon. Fennel. He’s that runner. Now, I know the story about him returning to Athens, announcing the Battle of Marathon victory and promptly dying is probably a myth, but if anyone hands me fennel at the end of one of my marathons I will FREAK OUT!
Okay, back to the veg. Fennel has a similar texture to celery, which means it has great crunch and will stand up to sautéing, braising and grilling. When eaten raw it is bright and refreshing. However prepared, it has a nice soft sweetness. Low in calories, fennel’s a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber. Select a firm, unbruised bulb. Need to keep it more than a couple of days? Wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in the vegetable crisper bin, it should keep about five days. Enjoy!