Uses and Benefits of Fennel Seeds

Uses and Benefits of Fennel Seeds

What is fennel and how do you prepare it?

Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet, adding a refreshing contribution to the ever popular Mediterranean cuisine. Most often associated with Italian cooking, be sure to add this to your selection of fresh vegetables from the autumn through early spring when it is readily available and at its best.

Fennel is composed of a white or pale green bulb from which closely superimposed stalks are arranged. The stalks are topped with feathery green leaves near which flowers grow and produce fennel seeds. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible. Fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family and is therefore closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander.

Good quality fennel will have bulbs that are clean, firm and solid, without signs of splitting, bruising or spotting. The bulbs should be whitish or pale green in color. The stalks should be relatively straight and closely superimposed around the bulb and should not splay out to the sides too much. Both the stalks and the leaves should be green in color. There should be no signs of flowering buds as this indicates that the vegetable is past maturity. Fresh fennel should have a fragrant aroma, smelling subtly of licorice or anise. Fennel is usually available from autumn through early spring.

Store fresh fennel in the refrigerator crisper, where it should keep fresh for about four days. Yet, it is best to consume fennel soon after purchase since as it ages, it tends to gradually lose its flavor. While fresh fennel can be frozen after first being blanched, it seems to lose much of its flavor during this process. Dried fennel seeds should be stored in an airtight container in a cool and dry location where they will keep for about six months. Storing fennel seeds in the refrigerator will help to keep them fresher longer.

Tips for Preparing Fennel

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 julienned fennel, it is best to first remove the harder core that resides in the center 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.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  • Sautéed fennel and onions make a wonderful side dish.
  • Combine sliced fennel with avocados, and oranges for a delightful salad.
  • Braised fennel is a wonderful complement to scallops.
  • Consider adding sliced fennel in addition to the traditional toppings of lettuce on your sandwiches.  (Lettuce wrapped preferably)
  • Top thinly sliced fennel with plain and mint leaves.
  • Fennel is a match made in Heaven when served with salmon and lemon.
  • Beets and Ground fennel seed is an excellent combination for potassium and digestion

Dill Sauerkraut

Vegan, Gluten Free

Happily serves 12

ALL ORGANIC INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Sauerkraut, plus juice if desired

1 Cup Dill Pickles, save juice

1/3 Red onion

1/4 Cup Avocado Oil

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 Cup Coconut Aminos 

2 TBSP Lime juice

Chop or dice onions and pickles.  (You can use dill relish)

Combine all ingredients.  

I used juice from the pickles and sauerkraut for a stronger flavor.  

You can use any where from 2-4 TBSP of the last 4 ingredients to fine tune to your desired taste. 

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Vegan, Gluten Free

Happily Serves 6

ALL ORGANIC INGREDIENTS 

2 Cups Cauliflower Rice 

2 TBSP Avocado Oil

1 Small Yellow Onion

1 Cup Peas and Carrots 

1/4 cup Broccoli 

3 TBSP Coconut Aminos

Sea Salt 

Pepper

1 Garlic Clove

1 Egg

Cut/Mince Garlic, let sit 5 minutes.

Heat avocado oil in skillet on medium/high heat.

Saute onions until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add peas, carrots and broccoli, steam 3 minutes.

Add cauliflower, mix with vegetables and sauté another 2 minutes.

Add Coconut Aminos.

Slide the rice to one side of the pan and scramble the egg on the other side.

Once the egg is cooked, mix in with the rice and add additional aminos (to taste preference)

Add salt, pepper and garlic.