What The Fennel?


With BS’s successful citron endeavor behind us, I thought I too would ask “WTF?

We’ve managed to grow some gorgeous fennel in our garden, but as you can see after the jump, the cuke patch is taking over, and trying to bring the fennel down. It’s harvest time.

I planted this knowing that I like fennel, but am realizing now that it’s go time that I don’t actually know what to do with it. Any ideas folks? I know you’ll come through for me ES readers!

Also some interesting facts about fennel post jump. . . 100_4146.JPG

Aren’t those cuke tendrils amazing!

So the parts I found most interesting, weren’t exactly “science class” related, but here are a few fun facts gleaned from wikipedia:

-Fennel is a carminative, which comes from the Latin roots meaning “healed (by incantation)” or “charmed”, and it refers to foods/herbs/drugs that reduce spasmodic activity of the bowels and are use to treat flatulence.

-Fennel also contains phytoestrogens, like yams and soybeans.

-“In Greek mythology, Prometheus used the stalk of a fennel plant to steal fire from the gods. Also, it was from the giant fennel, Ferula communis, that the Bacchanalian wands of the god Dionysus and his followers were said to have come.”

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  • gansie July 17, 2008  

    now i personally haven’t worked with fennel before, mostly because of how much i hate those licorous-flavored fennel seeds.

    but when i did some googling, most of the recipes use fennel as an addition to some delicious sounding salads (also feature avocado.)

    i did spy this stew that uses 2lbs of fennel. wondering if this could be served room temp or made more into a bean salad.

  • JoeHoya July 17, 2008  

    I’m with Gansie in terms of disliking fennel (and black licorice flavored items in general, with the exception of sambucca).

    But I’ve got a few cookbooks that could help:

    -Tom Colicchio has a recipe for seared tuna with roasted tomato vinaigrette and fennel salad
    -The Wine & Food Lover’s Diet cookbook has a recipe for fennel with shallots and white wine
    -Alice Waters has a recipe for a shaved fennel salad, braised fennel, sauteed fennel and fennel gratin.

    Let me know if you’d like any of the recipes.

  • MissGinsu July 17, 2008  

    Oh man, I love fennel so much…

    I especially like the bulbs sliced thin (1/2-1/4 inch), brushed with olive oil and grilled/broiled until they get all caramelized and brown.

    I usually chop up the tops and thow them on salads or saute them in a pot with sliced garlic sweet Italian sausage and cannellini beans (just add some chicken stock or veg stock) for a soup.

    My chef used to pickle fennel stalks and then slice them for salads, which was also pretty great.

    It’s also super-easy to slice ’em on a mandoline with some apples for a quick slaw. Okay. I’ll shut up now and let someone else have a go…

  • BS's Mom July 17, 2008  

    I’m with MissGinsu and love fennel. It seems to be a love it or hate it item. I came across this recipe recently – I think it was in Real Simple but don’t hold me to that and don’t accuse me of Cindy McCaining.
    Cut up a chicken into 8 pieces and rinse; pat dry with paper towels. Combine 3 tbls. mustard, 2 tbls. soy sauce and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken. Put 4 small carrots, a few parsnips (the recipe didn’t call for parsnips but I love them), 1 medium fennel bulb cut in wedges (thin); 1 red onion, cut in wedges, 8 sprigs thyme and 2 tbls. olive oil in a roasting pan. Nestle the chicken among the veggies; roast in 400 degree oven for about 50-60 mins. Yummy.

  • gansie July 17, 2008  

    BS’s Mom – LOVE LOVE LOVE that you used turned Cindy McCain into a verb.

  • rooms July 18, 2008  

    Awesome suggestions guys!! Thanks so much; now I just don’t know what to make first. I’ll let you know how things turn out;)

  • smrtallie July 18, 2008  

    Fennel is great in combination with leeks. I use fennel and leeks as the base for a chilled pea soup with mint. Cook fennel over medium low heat in butter until softened slightly, add leeks, and continue to cook until both are tender. Then add a splash of white wine and reduce. Combine in a blender with blanched peas, mint, and heavy cream. I puree and run the whole thing through a chinois. Garnish with a drizzle of cream and a spring of mint. It’s so perfect for hot summer days.

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