Fennel is a garden plant, which is related to the carrot and is from the parsley family. It is available from autumn through the spring season. Its bulb, stem, leaves and seeds are all used in culinary preparations.
The white bulb should have any brown or damaged outer layers removed before using. After the bulb is cut in half down the middle from the stems to the base, remove the hard core part and cut the balance into strips. These strips can be added raw to sandwiches or salads to give them a crunchy texture. This slightly licorice tasting vegetable is delicious sautéed in butter and braised in chicken stock. Serve it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese or other braised vegetables like carrots. It will give other vegetables a unique flavor that you will never find in a plain canned vegetable.
Its foliage looks like dill with the same kind of feathery leaves and is actually used like dill as a garnish or to flavor egg or fish dishes. It is especially good with salmon, sea bass and scallops. It also complements chicken, turkey and pork meals and combines good with fresh rosemary.
Fennel stems can be cut small and added to soups and stews. Its seeds are oval and yellowish-brown and are used in the preparation of salad dressings, breads and cookies. They can be added to the cooking water for added flavor of licorice when cooking broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower.
This plant , which is sometimes called fresh Anise, will change the taste of your cooking from ordinary to extraordinary.