What to Do with Fennel

Fennel Ratatouille
Fennel Pasta
Fennel Sauce
Fennel Gratin
Fennel-Orange Salad

Fennel has a licorice flavor that is off-putting to some. But it mellows considerably when cooked or marinated in a salad dressing. It has also been revered since the days of ancient Greece and Rome for its purported medicinal properties. According to Herb Wisdom, it is rich in phytoestrogens and is a veritable wonder drug, useful for treating everything from angina and anxiety to heartburn, high blood pressure and low sexual drive.


Fennel Ratatouille [top]

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced fresh fennel
¼ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced tomato
½ teaspoon minced garlic
herbs de Provence
salt and pepper
½ cup rich chicken stock

1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan until very hot. Add the fennel, onion, celery, and tomato, and sauté for 10 minutes over medium heat.

2. Add the garlic and herbs de Provence, mix with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Before serving, add as much of the rich chicken stock as desired to thicken the ratatouille slightly.

Source: 72 Market St.:A Collection of Recipes and Portraits from a Classic Venice Restaurant

Fennel Pasta [top]

¼ cup currants
¼ cup pine nuts
salt and pepper
1 fennel bulb, about 1 ½ pounds
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, optional
1 pound bucatini or cut pasta like penne or farfalle

1. Soak the currants in warm water to cover. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly browned, just a few minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt.

2. Separate the fennel stalks and leaves from the bulb; chop the bulb. Trio the feathery leaves, mince, and set aside. Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat; a minute later, add the onion, chopped fennel bulb, and fennel seeds if you’re using them.

3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and fennel are softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add some salt and pepper. Drain the currants and add them, along with a little of the reserved water if necessary.

Source: The Best Recipes in the World, by Mark Bittman

Fennel Sauce [top]

½ cup coarsely chopped peeled fennel bulb (white part)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fennel sprigs
I cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon Pernod
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely cracked pepper

1.Immerse chopped fennel bulb in a pan of boiling water and boil until soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and remove to a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

2. Puree cooked fennel. Add remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve cold.

Source: The Cuisine of California, by Diane Worthington

Fennel Gratin [top]

fennel bulbs

1. Preheat oven to 400o F.

2. Trim away tough outer leaves of the fennel bulbs. Cut bulbs in half and steam until tender, about 10 minutes. Place in buttered baking dish, sprinkle with grated cheese, and dot with butter.

3. Bake or broil until browned on top, about 5 minutes.

Source: The Art of French Vegetable Gardening, by Louisa Jones

“Fennel is one vegetable that you either love or leave alone. But this treatment, which combines the flavors of sweet licorice with bittersweet orange, may convert even those who find the unaccustomed anise-like note jarring in a vegetable,” Robert Wemischner writes in his first book, The Vivid Flavors Cookbook. “When it comes to this pale green bulb, I can never get too much of a good thing,” Wemischer continues. “Believing that if one texture is good, two are better, I place crisp, raw matchsticks of the vegetable on a base of twice-cooked, ‘melted’ fennel and drizzle the whole delicate pile with a vinaigrette infused with Seville orange marmalade, fresh juice, and dried tangerine peel.”

Fennel-Orange Salad [top]

2 large fennel bulbs, with feathery tops attached (about 2 lbs. total)

The ‘Melted’ Fennel:
2 c. dry white wine (or 1 cup dry vermouth and 1 c wine)
2 bay leaves
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
Zest of l medium-sized lemon
12 hot dried chile peppers (ancho or serrano will do )
6 whole allspice
1 T. fruity olive oil

The Fennel Matchsticks:
Juice of l lemon, to prevent fennel from darkening

The Vinaigrette:
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
Juice of medium sized lime (about 2 T. , or more to taste)
3 T. Seville orange marmalade
1/2 c. fruity olive oil
1 T. dried powdered tangerine or orange peel (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Garnish:
Feathery tops of fennel, chopped
1 large orange, peeled and sectioned, membrane and pits removed
1/4 c. oil cured Moroccan-style black olives

1. To make the poaching liquid, bring the wine, bay leaves, garlic, lemon zest, chile peppers, and allspice to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.

2. Remove the stalks and feather tops from the fennel bulbs. Save the feather tops for the garnish. Set aside one fennel bulb. Roughly chop the other one and cook in the poaching liquid at a simmer until tender. Remove from the poaching stock and set aside. (Save the poaching liquid, sieved, for a soup base, if desired).

3. Heat the oil in a small heavy saute pan and add the poached fennel. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is very soft. Remove from pan. With a heavy knife, reduce to a rough puree. (You may use a food processor or blender here, but do not overprocess.) Set aside.

4. Slice the reserved fennel bulb into thin strips, about 1/2” wide by 2” long. Toss with the lemon juice and cover while you make the vinaigrette.

5. To make the vinaigrette, whisk to combine the mustard, vinegar and orange and lime juices. Add the marmalade and whisk to blend. In a thin stream, whisk in the oil gradually. Add the dried tangerine powder (if using) and salt and pepper to taste. The vinaigrette should have a slightly biting edge. Adjust the lime juice accordingly.

6. Center equal portions of the fennel puree on each of 4 plates. Pile the fennel on top and dress with some of the vinaigrette. Garnish with fennel tops, orange sections, and black olives. Serve the remaining vinaigrette in a sauceboat.

Source: The Vivid Flavors Cookbook: International Recipes from Hot & Spicy to Smoky & Sweet, by Robert Wemischner