Tired of celery? Diced onion getting you down? Try cooking with fennel — it has all the crisp juiciness you want from a green vegetable, with far more flavor. Whether it’s caramelized, gratinéed, braised, pickled or simply eaten raw in a salad, you can’t lose.
Fennel has a similar structure to celery, with stalks that grow from a central bulb. Like other bulbs, it has a high water content, which makes it ideal for sautéeing with other vegetables to provide sweetness for the base of a long-cooking dish. Fennel has a unique anise-like flavor and its astringent nature is great for cutting through the richness of heavier dishes, whether raw or cooked.
Fennel seeds have been used as a spice since ancient times and boast medicinal qualities pertaining to digestion. Heartburn? Try chewing on a spoonful of fennel seeds. You probably know fennel seeds from the sausage that gave you the heartburn in the first place.
Fennel pollen is an intensely-flavored seasoning scraped off pollinating plants, used in Italian cuisine to pump up the floral fennel flavor in desserts and roast meats. It’s super-expensive and definitely worth it.
Now that you know, here are a few of our favorite fennel-forward recipes:
- Braised Fennel Wedges With Saffron and Tomato
- Fennel Gratin
- Spiced Pork Belly with Fennel and Tomato Salad
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