Fennel’s a bit of an odd vegetable. Although it turns up in the produce departments of most super markets, it’s not really a regular guest at most people’s tables. Fennel’s best pals with Celery, another kind-of-blah veggie that is often left languishing. These two veggies have the same pale greenish-white crisp flesh. And Fennel’s stalks grow around one another like Celery’s stalks do. Both veggies can be served raw or cooked. And both have a fibrous, mild flavor.
But Fennel deserves a closer look. Once you get to know it, you’ll see it’s loaded with character. Fennel’s bulb is roundish, rather than stalky like celery. Celery’s leaves are wide and flat. But Fennel’s leaves are wispy and needle-like, ferny… similar to dill. And they are ever so edible on salads or in soup.
Fennel out-does Celery on the taste front every time. Imagine something like mild licorice, slightly sweet and juicy on the tongue. This gentle veggie becomes exotic when you treat it kindly.
I borrowed a fennel recipe from blog I follow and served it as a side to chicken, rather than as a pasta sauce which was the suggested idea.
I’m not a fan of pasta. Sometimes I’ll make a whole-wheat variety just to mix up my carbs a bit. But I find pasta low on nutrients and high on simple carbs that our bodies too easily change straight into sugar.
And if there’s one thing I dislike more than pasta, it’s sugar.
Fennel side-dish, with bacon, wine, and grated cheese
- 1 or 2 slices back bacon, chopped
- 1 onion (I used a red one)
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 tsp fennel seeds (don’t leave these out as they are so healthy and great to have on hand)
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- freshly grated hard cheese (I used Parmesan)
- Cut the fennel and the onion in quarters and then in thin slices.
- Chop the bacon.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook over medium low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and fragrant.
- Add the fennel seeds and the fennel.
- Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes.
- Now add the bacon and continue to sauté a few more minutes.
- Add the white wine.
- Cook over low heat until the fennel is tender but still firm to the bite. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Add freshly grated cheese.
- Toss to mix.
- Serve immediately on warm plates.
Fennel’s health benefits
Fennel is an excellent vegetable in your army of disease fighters. Its fiber helps in digestion and its unusual antioxidants reduce inflammation and protect the liver from damage. In particular, a powerful antioxidant in the oil of its seeds prevents toxic chemical damage to your cells’ tissues. Be sure to add these to your veggie dishes to up their nutrition and taste. Fennel has lots of vitamin C and a whole bag of minerals used in the smooth operation of your body. Heart disease and colon cancer are cowered by its power.
New tastes are the spice of life. So if you don’t know Fennel already, wait no longer to try it. If it’s the first time for you, the taste is somewhat unusual. Try it a few times to see how best to incorporate it into your meal plan.
More ideas for using Fennel
Besides this delicious recipe for an Italian side-dish, here are a few other ways to serve Fennel. Live it up!
- Sauté fennel with onions for a simple side dish. Try it with scallops.
- Combine sliced fennel with avocados, and oranges for a delightful salad.
- Adorn a sandwich with sliced fennel, in addition to the traditional toppings of lettuce and tomato.
- Top thinly sliced fennel with plain yogurt and mint leaves.