A vegetable that looks like a small, bulbous celery, with three or four green celery-like stalks protruding from the top plus a few fine, feathery leaves.
Available all year round, choose firm heavy bulbs without any signs of bruising. Has a sweet hint of aniseed flavour and crisp texture, which is delicious in salads or cooked with fish or chicken recipes.
The feathery leaves of fennel belong to the same family as dill and have a pronounced aniseed flavour. Fennel herb is the perfect partner for grilled or barbecued fish, try cooking the fish on top of the herb for a gentle fragrance.
Add a little fennel to salads or to flavour creams or buttery sauces.
Ever since ancient times, fennel has enjoyed a rich history. The ancient Greeks knew fennel by the name "marathron"; it grew in the field in which one of the great ancient battles was fought and which was subsequently named the Battle of Marathon after this revered plant.
Fennel was also awarded to Pheidippides, the runner who delivered the news of the Persian invasion to Sparta.
Greek myths also hold that knowledge was delivered to man by the gods at Olympus in a fennel stalk filled with coal. Fennel was revered by the Greeks and the Romans for its medicinal and culinary properties.
The three different parts of fennel—the base, stalks and leaves—can all be used in cooking. Cut the stalks away from the bulb at the place where they meet.
If you are not going to be using the intact bulb in a recipe, then first cut it in half, remove the base, and then rinse it with water before proceeding to cut it further.
Fennel can be cut in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending upon the recipe and your personal preference.
The best way to slice it is to do so vertically through the bulb.
If your recipe requires chunked, diced or julienne fennel, it is best to first remove the harder core that resides in the centre before cutting it.
The stalks of the fennel can be used for soups, stocks and stews, while the leaves can be used as an herb seasoning.