Thursday, March 29

How Do You Cook with Fennel?

fennel bulb

Cashier: Picking up the two fennel bulbs I was buying and examining them. "Do you cook with fennel a lot?"

Me: "Oh, yeah. All the time."

Cashier: "I’ve always wondered what to do with it. It just looks so cool, you know?"

Me: "Oh, I can give you lots of idea about how to cook with fennel. You could put it in salads or saute --"

Cashier: Waving the hands as if she were trying to stop traffic, she interrupted,  "Oh, no, no! I don't want you to tell me. I won’t actually do it. I’ve just always wondered."

In case you're wondering about fennel bulb, it's actually an herb that has been enjoyed since antiquity. When eaten raw, you'll appreciate its crunchy, refreshing celery-like texture and sweet licorice flavor. When sauteed or roasted, you'll find it morphs into something more savory, with an earthy depth of flavor. It gets along well with many ingredients but has a special affinity for citrus fruits, figs, olives, nuts, and hard cheese like Pecorino Romano and Parmesan. And those feathery fronds? They're edible too. Toss them in your salad or munch on them as a digestive aid.

So, tell me, dear readers, 
how do you cook with fennel? 

Lemony Roasted Fennel and String Beans

Lemony Roasted Fennel and String Beans
Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

1 fennel bulb, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 pound string beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
The zest of 1/2 lemon (about 1/2 teaspoon)
The juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut of fennel stalks. Cut bulb in half. Then in quarters, then in eights, for a total of 8 wedges. Place fennel and string beans in a large baking dish.

2. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour over vegetables and toss until coated. Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the tinfoil. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley and toss. Cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and a few brown spots appear.

3. Transfer vegetables to a platter or large bowl and drizzle with juices from the baking dish. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper and remaining 1/2 tablespoon parsley.

You might also enjoy these fennel recipes: 

warm barley and fennel salad

Warm Barley and Fennel Salad recipe from Food Blogga (pictured above)

Apple, Fennel and Celery Salad recipe from Food Blogga

Shaved Fennel Salad recipe from 101 Cookbooks

Fennel, Pear, and Olive Salad recipe from The Perfect Pantry (pictured above)

Fresh Fig and Fennel Pizza recipe from Food Blogga

Roasted Zucchini and Fennel Soup recipe from Dianasaur Dishes

Pickled Fennel Agrodolce recipe from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook (above)

Cheesy Chile, Fennel, and Potato Gratin recipe from What We're Eating


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Susan, thanks for linking to my fennel and pear salad (one of my favorites). I love fennel in soup stock, especially for cioppino, or roasted and served as part of an aioli platter.

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Thanks for the shout-out! And don't forget the wild fennel that grows ALL OVER here in California. It is the same species as the store-bought one, only it's gone feral. No bulbs, but a more powerful anise flavor...

Beth Bader said...

Caramelized Fennel, Carrots, Potatoes and Lemon-Ginger sauce. Easter!

Amy Sherman said...

I adore fennel with seafood! It's great with mussels, fish, scallops. I created this recipe with shrimp several years ago.

Goody said...

The bulbs are wonderful roasted with a bit of oil, some salt and dried apricots. If you have leftover fronds, you can always make this fish pate:

I admit, that is kind of a chore just to use up some fennel fronds *shrug*

If I don't get back here before, I hope you have a lovely Easter.

Marcia H said...

I love salad made with fresh fennel and orange slices combined with fried fresh goat cheese and honey.

And with fish.

I do prefer to eat it raw and crunchy :-)

GF Gidget said...

This post made me so happy! I have never cooked with fennel, and have been looking for inspiration. I found it in your post! Thank you!

larrouxgirl said...

Love it, love it, love it! Simple way, sliced then sauteed with sweet onion and used as a base to steam a nice single-portion piece of fish. Bit more complicated? As an integral part of a soup I love, Green Minestrone (lotsa versions online).

Cathy @ She Paused 4 Thought said...

I learned a great recipe in cooking school called Insalata Bianca. Most people who professed to hate fennel, loved it. Recipe at -

Ashlee Akey said...

How I use fennel: Minced and sauteed in a shellfish, harissa, and cream tagine! Mmmm!!!

Amy (Savory Moments) said...

I love fennel. I like it shaved in salads or roasted with onions and apples to go alongside a pork loin.

Sylvie said...

Great ideas. I like it raw in salads the best.

Jacqueline said...

Loved your story :)

I don't cook with fennel nearly enough. My hubby isn't keen on it. I have enjoyed it is salad with oranges, baked with potatoes and garlic and in soup.

It does look pretty cool. She got that much right.

Robert Richards Recipes said...

Well, now I know I will have to get to the store to get the ingredients for this recipe. Because my friends are coming over this weekend so I have to make this recipe for them. Thanks soo much for this recipe! :-)

Lana said...

Fennel is the last of the food obstacles I have to conquer. I have worked my way through cumin, avocados, cilantro, mixing sweet and savory, etc. I am getting acquainted with fennel slowly and I really want to like it (it's the hedonist in me - I don't want to miss out on anything!)
Thanks for all these ideas! am sure I'll find something to break me in the fennel-love:)

Normal Food For Normal People said...

I always love to put fennel into my mashed potatoes. It just gives them a more down to earth (and earthy) feel than they already have. Delish!

Danny said...

I'm a new fan of fennel! Just made Pan Roasted Fennel, Summer Sausage, with Herb Bread Crumbs and Creme Fraiche!

Christoph said...

Great recipes! We use it a lot with shelfish or seafood in general. I also use it in soups along with onions like in this cauliflower soup:

Magic of Spice said...

Great list of recipes! I simply adore fennel in just about anything :)

Fig said...

I discovered fennel a few years ago - love the taste and texture and it's become a staple salad ingredient. I also like to use it in soups because it adds such a nice flavor. Love string beans and can't wait to try your fennel and string beans recipe - looks yum yum yummy.

Nadia said...

I love fennel sauteed until slightly caramelized, then sprinkled with good salt - just like that. Also, it makes a perfect side for rich meats like lamb. I combine fennel, prunes, spices (cinnamon goes very well here)and stew them together to blend flavors.