Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This week's farm share included fennel.  I love fennel and am always happy when it appears on my table because it is so tasty.  It's also good for you but don't tell the kids, just let them taste it and they'll love that great licorice-y flavor.

Fennel is a perennial herb that has medicinal and culinary uses; the whole plant is useful, roots, bulb, foliage and seeds.  It has carminative properties meaning it is helpful with indigestion and gas.  It appears in many different cultures and many types of dishes.  In Indian restaurants you can usually find a dish of fennel seeds by the register to chew on after the meal to help with digestion.

Nutritionally fennel is a great source of vitamin C; it's also a good source of fiber, potassium, manganese, and folate.  

One of my favorite ways to eat fennel in the winter is in a roasted root casserole. Sliced fennel chopped up and mixed together with carrots, parsnips, potatoes and beets. Tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and parmesan dressing with salt and pepper and then roasted in the oven until the vegetables are done. You can tell when they are done when the fennel starts to caramelize a little.  I roast them at 400 degrees F and use just enough dressing to coat the vegetables.  Roasting the fennel softens it's licorice-y flavor and makes it milder.

Since it's not winter I decided to switch this up a bit and roasted the fennel with red pepper, vidalia onion and the dressing. It was delicious. I had been planning to grill the vegetables but by the time I finished marinating them it looked like rain so into the oven they went. Served alongside another family favorite, "beans-n-greens", and a sweet potato on the side it was a colorful and delicious dinner. Give it a try, if you've never eaten fennel you may be surprised by how much you like it.

Another great recipe that I plan to try is this fennel slaw recipe from Epicurious.

Be well.

photo courtesy of
Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

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