Fennel is a vegetable that belongs to the umbellifereae family and is related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. Like celery, you can use fennel either raw and cooked, and — like celery —its flavor and texture tend to mellow during the cooking process. The aroma of licorice and anise make this vegetable very versatile. Everything is edible with fennel! The fennel’s bulb, stalks, seeds, and fronds can all be prepared and eaten. The bulb has a texture that is very similar to celery. You can cook it interchangeably with celery, but the flavors are not identical. Shave and prepare it in salads, or slice it and sautée, fennel has a strong yet pleasant anise flavor. The size of bulbs range from big to small. The stalks look like celery with thinner and stringy leaves. Outer layer is harder in general.
Buying and storing fennel
Fennel bulbs should be always clean, white —some green is still fine though—, and compact. Avoid fennel bulbs with soft spots or browning. Store your specimens wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator — the crisper is better —. you can keep your fennel bulbs for about a week.
How to prepare fennel
Wash and clean the fennel bulb and remove the core which is too tough to eat. Slice through the bulb and cut off the core. You should trim off the leaves and stalks, and book them for later use like garnish if you like.
How to cook fennel
Braising, roasting, and sautéing are popular cooking methods or fennel. But fennel bulbs can also be chopped, julienned, or diced for cooking, or thinly sliced with a mandolin and used as a fresh ingredient in salads. Just as I said above, everything in edible in fennel: The stalks can also be used in soups, stocks and stews, and the feathery leaves can be used as an herb seasoning. Fennel is done when it’s tender enough to pick easily with a skewer or a small knife.
(Photo: Stacy Spensley )