Holly Brown
Grapefruit and Fennel Salad is a tasty first course in a meal made with this sometimes overlooked ingredient.

The Brown Lounge: Fun with Fennel


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By Holly Brown

Funny-looking fennel always catches my eye in a recipe. Fennel adds aromatics and anise (licorice) flavor to many dishes; from appetizers, to soups, salads, sides, and pasta. Even simply roasted, fennel is a fabulous accompaniment to your holiday meals. Fennel is in peak season this month, so it's the perfect time to try. Don't be intimidated by this awkwardly shaped bulb. It’s easy to find, prepare and serve.

Fennel is widely used in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and China. Fennel is linked to everything from Greek Mythology (Prometheus used fennel to steal fire from the gods) to its use as a key ingredient in Absinthe, to a variety of medicinal purposes, from the treatment of gas to glaucoma. Fennel seeds are used as a spice and breath freshener. And of course, Fennel has endless applications in the kitchen. The round white bulb is a crunchy bright vegetable that can be sautéed, stewed, braised, grilled, or eaten raw. All parts of the fennel can be used for garnishes, or to add zing to soups and salads.

All parts of the fennel are edible, even the stalk and feathery leaves, also known as fronds. Fennel seeds come from the flowers that grow near the green fronds on the fennel stalk. Choose fennel bulbs that are bright white and firm.

To prepare fennel in your recipes, start by cutting the stalks off of the bulb, and remove the hard core at the bottom and center of the bulb. Be sure to rinse it once you cut into the bulb to remove residual dirt that may linger in between the stalks at the base. Then slice vertically through the bulb. You can then julienne, dice, or create full size slices of fennel, perfect for roasting. Think of fennel the way you would an onion. There are many slicing and dicing options depending on your recipe. If you don’t plan to use the entire fennel, cut only the portion you plan to use, and store the rest in the refrigerator.

My favorite fennel recipes include everything from Cheesy Cauliflower and Fennel Dip, to Fennel, Apple and Mint Soup, to Baked Salmon and Almond Vinaigrette. Make fragrant fennel part of your Fall menus with holiday recipes from TheBrownLounge.com

Cheers! Holly Brown

Baked Fennel

Cheesy Cauliflower and Fennel Dip

Fennel, Apple, and Mint Soup

Grapefruit Fennel Salad

Couscous with Caramelized Fennel and Apple

Baked Salmon and Almond Vinaigrette

Fennel, Chard, and Sausage Pasta

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