Fennel has dark green, feathery leaves that form a soft, ferny shrub. It has a sweet, intense aniseed flavour that is slightly fruity, acidic and strongly aromatic.
Fennel is a zesty addition to salads and vinegars, potatoes, eggs or pasta and makes a classic sauce to pour over fish. It can be used as a marinade or stuffing for fish, chicken and other meats, alone or mixed with other herbs such as garlic. It can also form a tasty bed for roasting fillets. It creates an interesting and piquant pesto.
Fennel is a classic digestive tonic, relieving bloating, cramping, and pain, soothing and relaxing the stomach and intestines. The essential oils that give it its characteristic scent and flavour are also responsible for its healing action on the gut.
Store in the fridge in the vegetable drawer in original punnet. Use within two days of opening. It can also be frozen by roughly chopping and placing in a zip-lock bag, as is or with olive oil added. Flatten the contents of the bag to make it easy to break into portions. Freeze overnight. An ice cube tray can also be used by pouring a little water or olive oil over the chopped herbs inside the tray.
Culture and History
Fennel originated in the Mediterranean basin, where it was used for both food and medicine and came to be associated with the Greek god Prometheus, who brought fire to humankind, concealed in a fennel stalk. Fennel is one of the key ingredients in the drink Absinthe, which was created as a medicinal elixir but then came to be marketed as a spirit.