The liquorice tang of fennel tends to elicit a love-it or hate-it response. You may be entitled to an opinion but better it be a well informed one… The aniseed flavour is more potent when raw. It is best thinly sliced and thrown through a salad.
Storage & prep
Will keep for a week
Storage: These aniseed flavoured bulbs are fairly robust but should be kept in the fridge to help retain their fresh crunch. They should be good for a week. Remove any leafy fronds to extend the shelf life. You can save these and use them too.
Prep: Trim away the tough stalk tops. Cut the bulb in half lengthways. Cut away the solid root core, if it appears particularly tough, with a simple v-shaped cut. You can then slice it as thickly or thinly as you desire. It will discolour a little when cut so dress it in an acidic dressing or keep it in water acidulated with lemon juice.
It is at its simplest finely sliced and eaten raw in a salad. It will impart a light aniseed flavour and a refreshing crunch.
It is best cut into wedges for frying, griddling or roasting. You can also cook it low and slow, it will collapse into a rich unctuous mess, perfect under roast pork. Any trimmings are good for the stock pot, especially fish stock. Any fronds can be chopped and scattered as a herby garnish.
Raw asparagus & fennel salad
Both asparagus and fennel are wonderful raw and thinly sliced. Don't snap off any wooden ends from the asparagus before peeling. Instead, use these to hold the stalks as you peel; they give you purchase and can be discarded when you have sliced all the tender tops. If you don't manage to get any fronds from the fennel to use as garnish, a little fresh tarragon or chervil would work well instead.
Serves 2 - 10 min
Fennel works well with:
Fruit - apples, pears, citrus fruit
Veg - carrots, olives
Nuts - almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts
Meat - lamb, pork
Fish and shellfish