Fennel, also known as sweet anise, is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, making it popular in many Italian and French dishes. Fennel is a root vegetable with a feathery frond and a large, bulbous root. The bulb’s texture is similar to celery and can be thinly sliced and roasted, sautéed or boiled. The frond can be minced and added to dishes the way you’d use a fresh herb, making this root vegetable nearly entirely edible. Fennel is slightly sweet with a hint of black licorice. Fennel goes well with shellfish and poultry dishes and pairs nicely with light-bodied whites like Pinot Gris and Chenin Blanc.
A Brief History
The Fennel plant is a native to the Mediterranean area. Although it is originally from Europe, it is also cultivated in many parts of North America and in Asia. Ancient Greek athletes consumed Fennel seed to gain strength and to stave off hunger during fasting periods as it does not increase weight. The Romans cultivated Fennel for its aromatic fruits as well as for its edible shoots. The famous battle of Marathon against the Persians was fought on a field of Fennel. History has it that snakes consumed Fennel seeds while shedding their skin to restore their eyesight.
How to Select:
Select firm, light green Fennel bulbs with no soft or brown spots. If the fronds are still attached to the bulb, they should be bright green with no signs of wilting.
How to Store:
Keep Fennel refrigerated in a crisper or in a sealed plastic bag. It should last up to a week.
How to Prepare:
Always rinse your produce under cool water before using. For fresh, easy preparation, thinly slice the Fennel bulb and add to a salad or sandwich. Fennel can also be sautéed (it caramelizes very well) or roasted at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. Check out our blog for recipes.
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