How to Prepare Fennel: An Often Overlooked Vegetable

How to Prepare Fennel: An Often Overlooked Vegetable
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What is Fennel

Fennel is an herb that is in the carrot family. The stalk looks somewhat like a carrot stalk and the root is a white bulb, like an onion. All parts of fennel including the root, the leaves and the stalk can be eaten. The green leafy part of the plant (called a frond) can be chopped and used like dill as a garnish for salads such as marinated pasta and vegetable dishes. The bulb can be cut into slices or diced just like onion.

Image Credit/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Preparation of Fennel

Ever wondered how to prepare fennel? It’s like other familiar vegetables: onion, celery, and dill, and can be prepared in a similar manner.

Fennel is a root crop and like any root crop needs to be properly washed. As the plant grows it pushes through the soil, the growing stalk may have dirt incorporated in the hub of the stalk, the place where the stalks are connected to the root, similar to celery. After cutting the stalks from the root, be sure to wash the plant to remove hidden dirt.

Fennel is best used fresh since the nutritional value of the vegetable is highest. After being cut, the nutrition dissipates and decreases over time. Cut the bulb in the same manner as an onion, depending on what the recipe being used calls for. The stalk can be cut like celery into pieces and added to a stir fry or incorporated into a casserole. The fronds can be chopped and used as an herb. When growing fennel at home, it can be allowed to mature until it produces seeds. The seeds can be used in some bread recipes, sausage or stuffing. Seeds can be ground as well, producing a powder that gives a robust flavor without the texture of the seeds.

Use Fennel to Improve the Digestive System

Fennel has properties that aid in chronic digestive problems including gas, cramping, acid reflux and indigestion. It has a anti-spasmodic effect and reduces tension in the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract which is the primary way that the symptoms of chronic digestion are relieved.

Fennel is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which fight free radicals, preventing damage to organs and tissues. Simply incorporating this versatile vegetable in meals as an herb for salads, stir fries, and casseroles is a preventative measure against cancer and other mortal diseases. It contains niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, vitamin C, folate, potassium and manganese so making fennel part of cooking provides a dose of healthy nutrition and a flavor-filled boost to taste buds.

A Sampling of Recipe Ideas

The bulb of fennel can be included in cream sauces for vegetables and meats. The stalk is great sliced for Oriental Stir Fry and served over rice or Chinese Noodles. The fronds make a great addition to marinates for vegetable dishes with oil and vinegar dressing. A tasty combo for the summer is tomato, cucumber, onion and diced fennel fronds with equal parts oil and vinegar and salt. How to prepare fennel for a salad like this? Simple chop it up and use as much as you like to taste!

Now that you know how to prepare fennel, pick some up at the grocery store and try it soon.