As I was working on my menu project yesterday afternoon, I realized I’ve never cooked with fennel before!
Even while I was still at the grocery store buying the ingredients, I was totally confused. Apparently fennel is one of those things that American grocery stores often sell under an interchangeable name—like yams and sweet potatoes. I recognized the fennel, which can also be called anise, right away because I have seen pictures of it, but I had to pause to Google “is fennel and anise the same thing” just to be sure! I felt so silly…
Then, I got home and realized that I had no idea how to cut the product—I knew I wasn’t using the leaves, but what about the stalks? I had no idea whether I should use just the bulb or the stalks also.
Though the bulb, stalks, and leaves are all edible, it turns out the bulb is what’s used in most recipes. The stalks can be used to flavor stocks, soups, and stews. The leaves are mostly used for seasoning like herbs. There is also a really tough, fibrous core that has to be taken out of the bulb. See below for some instructions:
Use the fennel bulb to add flavor to mashed potatoes (recipe coming tomorrow) or serve them like this:
- sautéed with onions as a side dish for chicken or other meats
- thinly sliced on top of a salad
- as a topping on a sandwich or Panini