Fennel is a vegetable with a white or pale green bulb topped with feathery green leaves. Belonging to the Umbellifereae family, it is closely related to carrots, parsley and coriander. It’s available year-round but is freshest from fall through early spring.
Used primarily in Italian cuisine, the bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds of the fennel are all edible. To enjoy it raw, slice it very thinly with a mandolin and add it to salads and slaws. In its raw form, it has a crisp and anise-like flavor that is quite strong.
The fennel bulb can also be grilled, braised, steamed, boiled or roasted. When it is cooked, its flavor will become milder. Fennel seeds have a sweet aroma and is often used to flavor meat, fish, vegetable, chutneys and bread, and whole seeds are also chewed as a breath freshener.
Fennel is an incredibly nutritious vegetable! It has a unique combination of phytonutrients that gives it a strong presence of antioxidant activity. It’s also rich in vitamin C, and is a good source of fiber, folate and potassium.