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Fennel is a hugely versatile vegetable that grows easily, keeps well, and forms the basis of many dishes, from appetisers to desserts, particularly in Italian cuisine.
Imparting distinctive, yet subtle aniseed notes that vary in intensity, depending on whether it's eaten raw or cooked, knowing how to use fennel gives you access to a wonderfully useful vegetable.
If you are a beginner with fennel, here's a simple guide to get you started; from slicing the bulb to cooking techniques and recipes.
When selecting your fennel bulb be aware of the distinction of the gender forms depending on your recipe. The rounder, squatter male bulb is ideal for using raw, whilst the longer, flatter female bulb is preferable cooked.
How to cut a fennel bulb?
Fennel is a simple and robust vegetable to work with that holds it's shape whether slicing it thinly on a mandolin or deploying your knife skills. It can also simply be cut into wedges or quarters after removing the stem, depending on your chosen use.
Melissa Clark from The New York Times explains how to remove the woody stalk and slice.
What to do with Fennel?
Fennel can be eaten raw, cut into sticks or wedges and dipped into sauces or olive oil as an appetiser.
Fennel salad recipes (see below) are a wonderful way of enjoying fresh fennel, which adds elegance and structure to salads.
How to Cook Fennel?
Cooking fennel mellows out the flavours and texture. Boiled, steamed, braised or roasted fennel takes on a whole new irresistible succulence and depth of flavour.
Fennel also pairs well with fish, seafood and white meats, but can take on stronger flavours like ginger.
Simple Recipes with Fennel
Find a selection of delicious recipes for both raw and cooked fennel below: from refreshing vegetarian salads to pairings with seafood and meat.