You will find lots of Florence fennel recipes in France although the French do not eat as much of this lovely vegetable as their neighbors to the south-east, the Italians. I encourage you to try this vegetable if you have never had it. Fennel is so satisfying and it is a nutritional phenomena.
The fennel plant has been appreciated since ancient times. It originally grew wild (and still does) in the Mediterranean region and its popularity spread across many cultures.
The variety of fennel that is used in these fennel recipes is known as Florence fennel, or sometimes
bulb fennel. Its roundish base, which isn't actually a bulb but tightly packed white leaves, is topped by
green stalks ending in vibrant green wisps. Fennel has a mild licorice flavor that marries well with many
Fennel seeds come from a different variety of fennel plant and are used to flavor sausage, stews and other hearty dishes. The seeds are also considered to have medicinal qualities including being helpful for digestive problems.
Fennel Nutrition Bulb fennel is a powerhouse of nutrition. A one cup serving provides you with:
4% RDA iron and calcium.
17% RDA vitamin C.
3 grams dietary fiber.
Only 27 calories.
It is also high in potassium and, surprisingly enough, Vitamin A.
Selecting Fennel Look for vegetables that are firm and heavy in your hand, with a fresh aspect to the green top, and no brown spots on the bulb.
Storing Fennel You can store Florence fennel in the refrigerator for several days, although it does tend to lose some of its flavor the longer you keep it. Wrap it well or store it in a plastic container to keep it fresh and avoid having its flavor mingle with everything else in your refrigerator.
Preparing Fennel Before preparing these fennel recipes, you need to cut off some of the bulb. Begin by removing the green tops, which can be set aside and dried to flavor a soup or stew. If you want whole bulbs just cut off a small piece of the base. Otherwise, cut it off at about 1/2 inch, then remove the two most outer leaves which can be tough.
Raw Fennel You can serve raw fennel slices with a dip. The leaves make great scoopers and the fennel adds a pleasant licorice taste. Fennel can be chopped finely and served in a salad as in the recipe below. You might also like to try raw fennel with apples, melon, ham, or smoked salmon.
Fennel is an extremely versatile vegetable. It can be baked, steamed, boiled, or braised. Its licorice flavor mellows into a light sweetness with cooking.
You can cut fennel bulbs in quarters and use them as a bed for cooking chicken or fish.