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Ingredient of the Month: Fennel

June 10, 2018

 

 

What do you get if you cross an onion with celery? Something that resembles Fennel. Fennel is a sweet, perfumed anise-flavoured vegetable with a bulb and stalks protruding from the top. The bulb is the part consumed as the stalks tend to be tough.

 

Fennel is at its peak between April and October and that’s why Cooks & Partners have chosen to showcase this delightful ingredient in its cafes this month. Across our café sites you will find Fennel in several of Junes signature dishes – keep an eye out for them or just ask one of the team for further details.

 

Types of Fennel

 

There are two types of Fennel; one a herb (Foeniculum vulgare) and the other a bulb vegetable (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce also known as Florence Fennel).  

 

The herb variety looks very similar to dill with yellow flowers forming in the summer months. The stems, leaves and seeds can be harvested and used in a number of ways. Florence Fennel is grown for its bulb and has thick dark green stalks. Both varieties give the same liquorice anise flavour.

 

Popular Varieties

 

Herb Fennel Types

- Sweet Fennel

- Purpureum

- Rubrum

 

Florence Fennel Types

- Rhondo

- Victoria

- Cantino

- Mantavo

 

When selecting your Fennel, ensure the bulb is clean, blemish free with no brown spots. Go for smaller younger bulbs as they are more tender.

 

Fennel Benefits

An excellent source of Vitamin C and fibre, the bulb variety is said to reduce stomach cramping as it helps relax the stomach muscles. Some research even suggests that Fennel has anti-inflammatory and possess anticancer effects

 

In addition to this, Fennel is high in potassium which helps reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Based on the above and its tasty liquorice taste, it’s worth featuring it in your dishes.

 

How To Cook Fennel

Fennel is often used raw thinly sliced in salad recipes but is also fabulous roasted, in stir-frys, chargrilled on the side and in soups. Their flavour tends to mellow when cooked. Prepare your Fennel by washing, trimming the top (keep for garnish), slicing the shoots and peeling off the tough outer layer of the bulb. If cooking whole, cut of the tough middle core, leaving a cavity shaped like a cone. If not, cut into quarters removing the core from each.

 

Fennel Recipes

As always, the Cooks & Partners chefs like to make some recommendations on recipes you can try at home. Below are their top 5 to try. Let us know via social media how you get on with them. We always like to see photos of your creations.

 

1. Lemon & fennel risotto with crisp-fried sage

 

2. Crab & fennel spaghetti

 

3. Roast carrot & fennel soup

 

4. Caramelised fennel and fig pizza

 

5. Grilled Fennel Salad with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan

 

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