Carrot Family – Umbelliferae (Apiaceae)
Commonly known as, Florence Fennel, Sweet Fennel or Finocchio (Italian). In the US, it’s sometimes marketed as ‘Anise’ even though the herb anise (Pimpinella anisum L.), is a different species.
Florence Fennel is an annual herb grown for its bulbous leaf bases.
It has a rounded pale green bulb with short stems and feathery green leaves and can be mistaken for a plump bunch of celery.
Its flavour is mild, somewhat like anise or liquorice, but sweeter and more aromatic.
The French and Italians cultivate and use more fennel than anyone else. (The Wellness Encyclopedia)
Fennel is sometimes marketed as ‘anise’ in the USA even though it’s an entirely different plant from the herb anise (Pimpinella anisum) which is grown for its seeds and oil, secreted extracted from the leaves.
What Part of the Plant is used?
The bulb, feathery leaves, seeds and ‘pollen’ of fennel are broadly used in many culinary traditions around the world. The so called pollen are actually tiny flowers.
How to Use the Fennel Bulb
The bulb is a crisp vegetable that can be sautéed, stewed, braised, blanched, grilled, or eaten raw, as a vegetable or in salads. It can also be marinated and eaten raw.
Fennel is filling and yet very low in calories, like celery. It provides an excellent snack for you especially if you’re watching your weight.
Its a key ingredient in some Italian and German salads, often tossed with chicory and avocado.
How to Use Fennel Leaves and Stems
You can use fresh fennel leaves to infuse olive oil or wine vinegar to give them a great flavour and aroma. You can also use the fresh leaves in a bouquet garni to flavour fish dishes or other dishes.
Finely Chop fresh leaves and add them to mayonnaise, sauces, stuffings, vinaigrettes, vegetables, seafood salads, and pork. You can also sprinkle them over soups and salads as a garnish and to add extra flavour and aroma.
Use whole fresh leaves and stems as a bed for baked or grilled seafood.
You can also pair Fennel with parsley, oregano, sage, thyme and chilli.
In Syria and Lebanon, the young leaves are used to make a special Arab or Egyptian egg omelette (together with onions and flour). called Eggah.
Preparation of Absinthe:
Fennel is one of the three main herbs used in preparation of absinthe, an alcoholic mixture formerly a medicinal elixir in Switzerland and currently a popular alcoholic drink in France and other countries. (Wiki)
Why you should eat Fennel bulb
One raw fennel bulb contains only about 73 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 2.9 grams of protein, 17 grams of carbohydrate, and 7 grams of dietary fibre (28% of daily requirements).
Available through fall and winter in North America.