n4 nutrition

The Facts About Fennel

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Intro
In Issue 2 of nosh magazine, we included a delicious recipe featuring fennel. Here are some additional tips to help you better understand how to include fennel in your menu, more regularly.

 


 

 

Selection

Choose bulbs that have a solid white colour and that are compact, heavy, undamaged and have a fresh aniseed scent. Go for medium-sized bulbs with the green tops still attached – larger bulbs will have outgrown their peak flavour.

Varieties

While there is not an assortment of fennel varieties available, there are many parts of the fennel plant that we can utilise in our cooking. These include fennel seeds, dried fennel flakes, fennel leaves and the main bulb, which can be eaten raw or cooked. Originating from the Mediterranean, it is prominent in winter Italian and French cooking but as it has been widely cultivated, it has become an important ingredient in the dishes of many cultures including India, Afghanistan, China, Syria and Lebanon. 

A few dish ideas

Fennel and parmesan soup; mixed roast vegetables; fennel, apple and zucchini coleslaw; minestrone; fennel and leek risotto; tomato salad with shaved fennel and anchovies; quinoa, fennel and raw beet salad; calamari, fennel and feta salad; mussels with fennel and tomato.

Goes well with

Pork, salmon; sardines; anchovies; game meats, roast chicken; salads; sausages/meatballs; orange; lemon; smoked meats; ricotta; goats cheese; beetroot; olives.

Season

Typically, fennel bulb season in Australia, starts in late autumn and continues through winter. But it’s not unusual to find them in stores out of season. 

Storage

Store whole bulbs in the refrigerator. Cut fennel needs to be wrapped well and can be kept for two to three days refrigerated.   

Preparing it

Cut the bulb in half or quarters and remove the majority of the bitter core. Cut the fennel according to your intended use – if cooking, it can be left in larger pieces and either sliced into wedges or the layers peeled back. If eating raw, it is important to slice or dice it as finely as possible as the flavour and texture can be overwhelming.

Using it

There are so many ways this can be incorporated into your meal. Fennel can be overpowering and is ideally used with other strong flavours. If using the leaves then they are best kept raw and can be used in salads or added to vegetables or other hot dishes as you would a herb. The stems are best used sautéed or roasted, and as part of larger dishes. The bulb is delicious raw, braised, sautéed, fried, roasted or stir fried.

The Facts About Fennel
Charlotte Miller
Dietitian