I’ll be honest, I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for. I had a soup recipe that called for Fennel, and fingers crossed that Trader Joe’s actually carried it (valid concern; their produce section can be randomly selective). I had a hunch it was something similar to an onion, or maybe it was lettuce? Leeks-ish?
Luckily there was a noticeable sign pointing to the plastic case that housed two “Fresh Fennel!” bulbs.
Gracias, TJ’s. 100 points to you for shopping-made-easy!
According to the TJ’s Flyer, this vegetable has been around for quite some time (haven’t they all?…), and “can be eaten raw, cooked and served as a side dish, or added to recipes to impart abundant flavor.”
It also happened to be featured in the latest issue of Runner’s World (Feb 2012), as an “Alternate* Side” – a vegetable that may not always be front-of-mind when we think of ingredients & meals, so it brings variety to the table.
*to the ‘norms’ – potatoes, onions, celery, etc.
It’s an unusual kitchen companion; the top leaves resemble the herb, dill, the short stalk is leek-like, and the bottom ‘bulb’ might be the onion’s fraternal twin. It has a licorice aroma (odd connection to make with a vegetable); RW called it “extra-terrestrial looking”. I can see that.
It’s a good source of Fiber, Vitamin C & Potassium, and also houses 5-10% of our daily needs for iron, magnesium, calcium, folate and manganese.
Now, what do we do with this bi-colored, leafy, licorice bulb?
RW suggests serving it raw in a salad; slicing the bulb very thinly (discarding the stalk and leaves), and letting the slices soak in lemon water for 20 minutes.
WHF recommends either braising it and serving with scallops or salmon*, slicing thinly & topping with yogurt and mint, or adding slices to a sandwich for a new flavor & crunch.
*Pan-roasted Salmon & fresh fennel – a la Real Simple
A quick “fennel” search will give you a long list of options, these were just a few that stood out to me & were quickly added to my growing “to-make’ list.
Save an onion, and add this veggie to your next grocery bag – let me know what you think! If you decide to use the leaves somehow, I’m all-ears…
Are you a fennel fan? What’s your favorite way to chop & serve it?