Fennel- Fennel, or Foeniculum vulgare, is part of the Apiaceae family of vegetables. Other members in the family include carrots, parsley, celery, dill, and cilantro. Fennel is a fragrant and flavorful herb that has many uses in the culinary world, but is most often associated with Mediterranean dishes. This particular variety of fennel is Florence fennel, or F. vulgare var.azoricum, the development of which dates back to Italy in the 17th century.
There are three parts to fennel, all of which are edible and easily used in recipes. The bulbs of fennel are versatile and can be shredded to put into salads or side dishes, braised, pureed into a soup or sauce, or even grilled. The stalks are similar to celery stalks in texture and crunchiness, and can be sliced and added to a green salad, or added to a stir-fry along with your onions. The fennel leaves, or fronds, look similar to a dill leaf, but thinner. The leaves have a sweet licorice-like anise flavor and are used to garnish a variety of meals and even desserts.
Special notes on storage and handling- Store fresh fennel in the refrigerator crisper, where it should keep fresh for 1-2 weeks. However, it is best to eat your fennel soon because as it ages, it tends to gradually lose its flavor.
How to cut fennel:
1. Lay fennel flat and cut the stalks and fronds off the bulb.
2. Set the bulb on its flat bottom, then cut it in half.
3. Set the fennel halves cut side down. Cut each half perpendicular to the fibers into your preferred thickness.
Fennel is a good source of fiber, folate, potassium, antioxidants, and an excellent surce of vitamin C.