Fennel is one of those controversial vegetables that get mixed reviews: some love its refreshing crunch and liquorice-adjacent flavour, while others simply can’t stand it. But whether you’re a fan, a detractor or just someone unfamiliar with this Mediterranean veggie, read on: we suggest a number of delicious ways to use the bulbs, stalks, fronds (leaves) and seeds, along with recipes that will have even sceptics swooning for fennel. 

1. Fennel Is Flavourful – Especially Raw

Any fennel lover will tell you: this vegetable tastes the crispest and freshest when eaten raw. In fact in Italy, it’s a classic dish served to beat the summer heat. Chef Gennaro Contaldo makes a super simple yet satisfying version with thinly sliced fennel, orange and chilli pepper, but you could also add black olives or almond shavings.

2. Fennel Can Satisfy Your Crisps Cravings

If you’re over kale chips but would like to munch on a healthy snack, try fennel crisps. Simply peel the layers off the bulb, drizzle with olive oil and some salt, and bake in the oven. Healthy TV snack: sorted!

3. Fennel Juice Is Refreshing

Fresh green juice, however healthy it is, sometimes comes out quite blah. So add some fennel for a nice flavour kick, while taking advantage of its impressive health benefits; the veggie is loaded with vitamin C, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. The combination of fennel with green apple and ginger is particularly delicious, or you can try it with spinach, celery and cucumber.

4. Fennel Caramelises Well, Too

The aniseed or liquorice flavour of fennel comes from the aromatic compound anethole, which is also found in anise and star anise. Caramelising the veggie in butter softens this flavour, helped along even further with a bit of sugar. It’s particularly yummy on a pizza with fresh figs, where the sweetness is balanced with crumbled feta, or in a dish with orzo and saffron water.

5. Fennel Spruces Up A Soup 

Soup is always a good idea when you need to use up some extra veggies left in your fridge. Next time, don’t overlook fennel. Use the bulb in light, clear soups, such as a broth with herbs and parmesan or white beans, tomatoes and spinach. For something more creamy, try a potato and fennel soup or cook it in combination with roasted carrots.

6. Fennel Is Perfect For A Summer Barbecue

We like a little char on pretty much everything, and grilling works wonders for fennel, too. Cut thin wedges (make sure to leave the core in, so that the layers stay intact), brush with some olive oil, and place them on a hot barbecue or grill pan. We bet fennel salads, such as this one with a black olive dressing or with grapes and feta, will be a side dish hit for all your summer entertaining.

7. Fennel + Fish = Fabulous

Fennel and fresh fish is a classic combination, mostly because its anise-like flavour brings out the salty notes in seafood. Try an elegant roasted cod with fennel and orange, a Sicilian pasta with sardines, fennel, pine nuts and raisins or a Mediterranean traybake.

8. Fennel Makes A Great Gratin 

As a gratin – aka ‘gratinated’ with a parmesan and breadcrumb crust – fennel becomes an opulent side dish. The use of whole milk or cream mellows out the veggie’s flavour intensity a little, and it’s extra delicious with a topping of walnut-thyme breadcrumbs.

9. Fennel Pickles Are Delish

Fennel lends itself perfectly to a quick pickling; in this recipe, it’s marinated in a combination of cider vinegar, sugar, orange and spices (including fennel seeds, of course) in which the fennel sits overnight. A nicely crunchy accompaniment for smoked and cured meats or fish, or just to nibble on by itself.

10. Even Fennel Fronds Have A Use

Excusez-moi, fronds? It’s the official name of those feather-like leaves that grow out of a fennel bulb. The taste is similar to fennel, but a bit more herby and ‘green’. Whenever you use fennel, add the fronds to the dish as well. Or use them separately as a flavourful fennel oil, pesto, vinaigrette or yoghurt sauce.

11. Going Caffeine-Free? Make Fennel Tea!

Fennel seeds are said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and they’re also believed to help with digestion. For a homemade, belly-soothing herbal tea, carefully crush the seeds to release the oil, and let them steep in boiling water. Add a slice of lemon or orange, some ginger or a little honey to complement the licorice flavour in your tea.​​

12. Fennel Can Finish A Meal

Fennel seeds are widely used in Indian cuisines – you may have seen a candy-coated version appear at the end of an Indian meal. These colourful mukhwas are used as digestive aids and breath fresheners. It’s really easy to make your own healthy version following this recipe.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Related Articles