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How to Cook Fennel 07/22/12

Ever wondered how to cook fennel? Laura Cooke finds out what to do with this aromatic vegetable.

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Not too long ago somebody gave me a big bunch of fennel – and I had no idea what to do with it. Do you cook the leaves? The stalks? Do you use it like celery?

Sometimes vegetables can be a little intimidating and I know that I tend to avoid “weird” vegetables in favour of those I am more familiar with.

After a little research I realised that I wouldn’t have known how to deal with this liquorice-ish plant without some external advice. Turns out there is a lot that you can do with fennel, you just need to know which part to use.

Focus on the bulb

Chop the bulb into wedges for frying, roasting or grilling. You can also thinly slice the bulb and add fresh to salads for some crunchiness. You can use the leaves for garnish and the stalks can be used for stocks.

A simple way to cook fennel is to saute with olive oil. Pictured here is a wholewheat couscous, citrus, olive and lentil dish.

Here are a few ways to cook this sweet and aromatic vegetable:

Saute it
Chop the bulb into wedges and saute with olive oil, oil or butter until golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grill it
Slice the bulb like an onion and fry on the braai (barbecue) or griddle pan. They become sweet and smoky.

Roast it
Add to your usual vegetable roast for added flavours. Chop any shape you like.

Soup it
Use the bulb in place of or in addition to onion at the start of your soup-making process.

Stock it
This is the where you can use the stalks! Add to stocks in the same way that you would use celery.

Slice the bulb very thinly and add to salads.

You can use the leaves for garnish, although I find their flavour a bit overwhelming.

For recipe inspiration, I found the Huffington Post’s 14 Favourite fennel recipes quite useful. (Not all vegetarian).

The recipe photographed was inspired by this Couscous with Chickpea, Fennel and Citrus recipe. I substituted ingredients with those I had in my home. Namely lentils in place of chickpeas, pimento olive in place of calamata olives and satsuma juice in place of orange juice. It was an interesting dish, but was a little dry and would have benefitted with the addition of some onion marmalade or chutney.



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Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Bunch website and community.

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