Fennel, also known as “Sweet Anise”, has a sweet, mild licorice flavour. The feathery fronds can be used as an herb like dill to flavour soups and stews. The broad bulbous base is treated like a vegetable.
Storage: Keep fennel in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
General Use: Fennel is wonderful braised, roasted, grilled, sautéed, or raw.
Salad: Toss thinly sliced raw bulbs with lemon juice, olive oil, shaved Parmesan, sea salt and ground pepper for a tangy salad.
Braised: Remove the fennels leaves and put to one side. Cut the fennel bulb into small wedges and place in a large saucepan. Add lemon zest and juice, sea salt, peppercorns, coriander and broth and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the fennel is tender. Remove from heat and set aside at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Warm over medium heat for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fennel and lemon zest to a platter. Sprinkle with sea salt and the reserved leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Roasted: Heat oven to 200°C. In a roasting pan toss wedges of fennel bulb, onion and tomatoes, crushed garlic, chopped fresh thyme, sea salt, ground black pepper and olive oil. Spread evenly and roast for 30-40 minutes until tender.
Grilled: Cut the fennel bulb into thick slices. Combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, crushed garlic, minced shallots, and tarragon in a large bowl and whisk to mix. Add the fennel and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and let marinate for 2 hours. Grill the fennel slices on high, turning with tongs for 8-16 minutes until just tender. Toss the grilled fennel with any remaining marinade and serve warm or at room temperature.
Sautéed: Heat a medium fry pan over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add olive oil, garlic, thinly sliced fennel bulb, and start tossing, to coat fennel in oil. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste. As the fennel starts to caramelize, add a splash of water to steam for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
The best winter veg coleslaw (from Jamie Oliver's website)
2 carrots, different colours if you can find them, peeled
1 bulb fennel, trimmed
1 light-coloured beetroot, peeled
½ small celeriac
400 g red and white cabbage, outer leaves removed
[use at least two out of the radishes, beetroot, celeriac and cabbage]
½ red onion, peeled
1 shallot, peeled
extra virgin olive oil
1 handful fresh soft herbs (use mint, fennel, dill, parsley and chervil), leaves picked and chopped
250 ml yoghurt
2 tablespoons mustard
freshly ground black pepper
Shred the carrots, fennel, and your choice of radishes, beetroot, turnip or celeriac on a mandoline, or use the julienne slicer in your food processor. Put the veg into a mixing bowl. Slice the cabbage, onion and shallot as finely as you can and add to the bowl. In a separate bowl, mix half the lemon juice, a lug of extra virgin olive oil, the chopped herbs, yoghurt and mustard. Pour this dressing over the veg and mix well to coat everything. Season to taste with salt and pepper and the rest of the lemon juice if you like.
Really delicious served with thinly sliced leftover roast lamb, pork or rare roast beef, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.