Fennel is an herb with a big crunch and strong aniseed flavour that some people find overpowering, but here at A Little Bit Food we love it! Fennel, both as a fresh herb or as a seed, can add unmistakeable flavour to all kinds of dishes, from salads and soups to stir fries and roasts. It's especially good alongside pork, lamb, fish, tomatoes, and eggs.
Fennel comes in a few varieties but most of us will be familiar with the Florence variety with its fat white bulb and green leafy fronds. When eaten raw, the texture is crisp and the flavour is quite assertive and anisseedy. Cooked, it's softer and more mellow.
Here are a few ideas for using fennel that we especially love:
Fennel works really well with courgettes and are abundant in gardens at the same time. Try adding orange to the combination for a fresh and zingy salad.
Combine fennel seeds with olive oil and salt for a delicious rub for pork or lamb.
Add fennel seeds to your next batch of bread for a subtley different flavor – fabulous served with cheese and cold meats.
Braise the bulb of Florence fennel in some olive oil and a scattering of chopped garlic for a lovely accompaniment to fish. Or toss through pasta and spinkle with parmesan.
The simplest way to dress raw sliced fennel is à la Elizabeth David, with nothing but salt, lemon juice and olive oil. This makes a great accompaniment to grilled fish, or with fresh buffalo mozzarella.
Try fennel on the BBQ, sliced and basted in oil, salt and pepper.
Next time you have pizza, try a sprinkle of crushed fennel seeds on top of the pizza when it comes out of the oven.
Our favourite fennel recipes: