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Friday, October 12, 2012

Holy Fennel (Batman)!

I love fennel.


I use the seeds, freshly ground, in a great variety of things... most notably pasta sauces, and as meat-rubs.

However, some fresh fennel can be a real treat.

It's particularly abundant in the fall, so now is a great time to go get some.

Every part of it can be used, in various dishes.

The green sprigs (washed) can be used in salads, or as fresh herb additions to sauces, pastas, even soups and stews.

The stalks and the bulb have a variety of uses, from sauces to stews, and many things in-between.

People often describe fennel as having a liquorice-like flavour... and sure it does... but for me it is the other subtle flavours there which are the money.  

It is no where near as liquorice-y as anise, nor even tarragon really.  

In fact, it can be quite mild.

Which is awesome!

I used this whole bulb of fennel up in one giant meal.  Using the sprigs in some fresh pasta, and the bulb in several different things.  

I sliced (julienne) some up thinly and added them raw to a spinach salad, which provided a delightfully juicy, crunchy bit of flavour.  

I minced some of the bulb up and, along with some fresh garlic, roasted some black olives in order to infuse some delightful, yet subtle, flavours.

The vast majority of this bulb, however, was puréed up and formed the primary flavour in a fresh garlic fennel cream sauce I made to go with my fresh pasta.  It was beyond words.


Bulb and stalks
If you've not experimented much with fennel, I highly recommend you do.  I have yet to find something which would not work with some part of it.