Hand drawn image of Fennel

Fennel

Foeniculum vulgare

The liquorice tang of fennel tends to elicit a love-it or hate-it response. Try it thinly sliced in a salad or in a rich, slow braise before deciding for yourself.

Image of Fennel being produced

In the kitchen

Storage

They are fairly robust but should be kept in the fridge to help retain their fresh crunch. They should be good for a week. Remove any leafy fronds to extend the shelf life; you can save these and use them too.

Prep & Cooking tips

Trim away the tough stalk tops. Cut the bulb in half lengthways. Cut away the solid root core, if it appears particularly tough, with a simple v-shaped cut. You can then slice it as thickly or thinly as you desire. It will discolour a little when cut so dress it in an acidic dressing or keep it in water acidulated with lemon juice.

It is at its simplest finely sliced and eaten raw in a salad. It will impart a light aniseed flavour and a refreshing crunch. It is best cut into wedges for frying, griddling or roasting. You can also cook it low and slow; it will collapse into a rich unctuous mess, perfect under roast pork. Any trimmings are good for the stock pot, especially fish stock. Any fronds can be chopped and scattered as a herby garnish.

Video: How to Cook Fennel

Easy ideas

1. Raw

The aniseed flavour is stronger when raw; it's lovely thinly sliced and thrown through a salad. Watercress, orange and black olives seem to ally themselves well, as does a little smoked fish, boiled beetroots and dill. Try this recipe for courgette, fennel and kohlrabi salad.

2. Fry

Sliced into thin wedges and fried gently for 10-15 mins, fennel starts to mellow and can form the jumping off point for a pasta sauce, if married with some tomato and chilli; a stew with some saffron, Pernod, stock and white fish; or even a simple soup. If you want to boost the aniseed flavour just add in some toasted and coarsely ground fennel seeds.

3. Braised

Cut the bulbs into generous wedges and fry until the edges start to colour. Drop the heat and cook slowly in olive oil for 30-40 mins until it has collapsed into what can only be described as a mush. Add some chopped garlic midway through and add a little water if it looks like catching in the pan. Finish with salt, pepper and a good squeeze or 2 of lemon juice. It may not look appealing but it is deep, rich and a worthy consort for slow cooked pork or roasted fish.

Goes well with

Fruit (Apples, Pears, Citrus fruit, Carrots, Olives)
Nuts (Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pine nuts, Walnuts)
Lamb
Pork
Fish and shellfish

Fennel recipes

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In the field

  • Meet the grower: Nigel Venni, Sacrewell Farm, Cambridgeshire

    Sacrewell Farm is Riverford’s home in the East. We’ve been farming there since 2007; it was the first ‘sister’ farm to our original Devon HQ.

    Read more

Seasonality

jan
feb
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apr
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jul
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sep
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