One of my absolute favorite things to do is to experiment in the kitchen. I adore trying new-to-me recipes out of cookbooks or that I find online, I love creating my own recipes, and I love exploring new tastes!
This month, the recipe redux theme is challenging me to do just what I love, try something new.
January: A New Ingredient for a New Year
Pick a new ingredient that you’ve been wanting to try… and cook or bake up a new recipe in the new year. Are you curious about nutritional yeast, fish sauce, matcha, teff – or maybe even ugli fruit? Show us how you’re cooking with something new (to you!) in 2016.
I’ll be honest, it was HARD to narrow it down to just one new ingredient that I wanted to cook with, but I decided to take a look at fennel.
For some reason, I’ve been wanting to do some experimenting with fennel for quite some time. I’ve only cooked it once before several years ago in a recipe from my aunt that I remember loving, but have not remade.
So, I wanted to take this recipe back to basics and just look at HOW we cook fennel. Sometimes, when I see a new-to-me item at the store, the biggest question I have is how to cook it. If I’m cooking something new, I want to make sure that I do it the right way because I’m afraid that if I don’t it may not taste good. Anyone else have that fear?
Fennel may look a little intimidating, but I can assure you it is delicious and easy to use.
How do I use fennel?
While preparing the fennel, I purchased only the bulb (lower portion) of the plant, but I have read that you can chop the stalks similar to celery to be used and cooked down into soups, stews and other dishes. You can use the fronds (the delicate leafy part on top) just as you would any other herb. Use it to top salads, flavor roasted vegetables, and use them while making stock or broth. You can enjoy the bulbs raw and sliced in salads or other cold dishes, or you can roast them (as I will show you below!)
When is fennel in season?
Fennel is in peak season in the fall and winter.
How do I pick a “good” one?
Pick a bulb that is firm, round, and absent of any bruising or brown spots. The stalks should also be firm rather than floppy or flexible.
What does it taste like?
Raw fennel has a slight licoricy flavor (and it smells like licorice too!), roasted fennel has a much mellower and sweeter flavor that pairs well with root vegetables, most proteins (our favorites are chicken and salmon!), and the texture really softens after it is cooked.
Other Facts to Note About Fennel
Fennel is historically used to aid digestion. It is also high in potassium, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, and many other vitamins and minerals.
I hope you enjoy using this delicious veggies as much as I have!