Fennel and its feathery fronds need not be a mystery in the kitchen.
The bulb, the part you’ll cook with most often, is crisp with a light anise-y flavor that mellows and sweetens when roasted, pan-fried or braised. The stalks aren’t used as often because of their more fibrous, tough texture, but they make an excellent aromatic addition to stock. The delicate fronds have a more concentrated fennel flavor and can be used like any tender herb, as a garnish, in salads or in pestos.
We’ve pulled some of our favorite ways to incorporate fennel into your meals.
Roast Pear and Fennel Salad. You can, and should, eat salad in the winter, and fennel is the way to do it. Slice fennel and a ripe pear, roast the two, then combine with a light dressing and add some toasted walnuts and a little cheese. If pears aren’t your thing, try another fruit, such as apple or even dried apricot.
Porcini Mushroom and Fennel Ragu. No meat, no problem! A great ragu is at your fingertips. Dried porcini mushrooms add their signature earthy and meaty notes, while finely chopped fennel lends a hint of sweetness.
Saffron Fennel Stew With Fish. Fennel and fish are a match made in heaven. It can add subtle flavors that won’t overpower more delicate fish, or add caramelized notes to this richly spiced, red wine fish stew. For a different flavor, try fish and fennel stew with olives and a drop of orange essence instead — or, if you don’t feel like stew, roast salmon together with tomato and fennel in a pan, for a simple meal that feeds a crowd.
Mushroom, Fennel and Herbed Ricotta Galette. Mushroom and fennel are back again, this time tucked into a galette with fluffy, herby ricotta. Leftovers would make a great next-day lunch.
Red Cabbage and Fennel Slaw With Sunflower Seeds. Thinly sliced raw fennel has a light crispness in this wintry cabbage slaw. Sunflower seeds add some extra texture.
Duos of Stuffed Cornish Hens, With Fennel and With Pear. Stuffing a bird with fennel imparts some of those anise-like qualities as they roast.
Fennel Gratins. With crispy bits and caramelization, fennel gratins make an easy and tasty side dish.
Butter-Braised Carrots and Fennel With Orange Zest. Yes, you can serve these gently braised veggies as an accompaniment to a main course, but consider piling them into a grain bowl for lunch!
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