my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


Fear of Fennel

I've just made meatballs and am congratulating myself on being (uncharacteristically) a cuisine coward.

I had come into possession of a bulb of fennel ... what a weird vegetable ... and had been so tempted to dice it, saute it and put it into the meatballs.

But one whiff of that STRONG anise-y scent ... and I knew it wasn't coming near my meatballs. There were fennel seeds in the Italian sausage and I think adding the actual vegetable would have orbited the meatballs into a whole different, inedible sphere.

I'm a little ashamed of my timidity. Go ahead, tell me I made a great error. I can take it. What do YOU do with fennel?


Anonymous janey said...

I'm not sure I want to do anything with a fennel. I'm a coward when it comes to food. Peas and carrots and sometimes a foray into broccoli. But it's a very nice picture.

5:35 PM

Anonymous logo said...

Mr Logo says it is great with chicken, in marinara sauces, and even solo.
I knew I had eaten it but I am not the chef.
He recommends the food network site.
Good luck!

8:42 PM

Blogger Urban Chick said...

i hate 'em too

i hate anything aniseedy like 'em

steer well clear of them, M

(kohl rabbi on the other hand...YUM)

2:55 AM

Blogger Bela said...

What a bunch of ninnies!

Fennel is king in the South of France (where I come from): it's an absolutely wonderful vegetable. No need to look it up on any website - you have me, M!

1) it's delicious raw, in a salad: just cut in thin strips and dress with virgin olive oil and lemon.

2) it's scrumptious boiled in salted water, then dressed with melted butter.

3) it's fantastic au gratin: boil as above, then cover with béchamel sauce, sprinkled with grated gruyère and dot with butter. Stick in a very hot oven until golden.

4) it's wonderful braisé: warm up some olive oil in a casserole pan, with bits of carrots, celery, parsley, thyme and a bay leaf. Add a bit of stock. Slice the washed fennel thickly. Add to pan with crushed garlic. Stir, cover and bring back to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 mins (move the lid a crack to let the steam come out). Serve very hot or very cold as an entrée.

Fennel is very good for you, for the digestion. Bon appétit!

6:22 AM

Blogger Bela said...

PS. I also think fennel is a very 'beautiful' vegetable: the way the layers are wrapped around each other like a plait... It smells of Provence, of sunshine and a blue blue sea. Sheer bliss!

6:32 AM

Blogger Doug said...

I ask myself "Now how did this get in here? I hate this crap." Then I feed it to a horse.

7:16 AM

Blogger Jemima said...

I had a delicious red pepper and fennel lasagne at my friend's wedding.

Then I drank to much and started crying.

The lasagne was, on reflection, the highpoint.

9:23 AM

Blogger Jemima said...

I mean too much of course. Apologies for my slipping standards of proofreading.

9:24 AM

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Well, until Bela explained it to me, I had never used fennel. Now I want to see what I'm missing.

10:32 AM

Blogger Lulu said...

I've got two other suggestions:

When eating raw, I orefer it sliced and then blanched in boiling water for one minute. Take out, drain, flush with cold water, chill for a while and then dress it as Bela suggests. It makes it less tough. I then add chopped walnuts to it, for salad. It's very fresh.

It goes very well with delicate white fish like lemon sole. Lay thin slices raw on the fish in aluminum foil, add some olive oil or a little butter, fresh pepper, lemon slices, scrunch up loosely and bake in the oven. You can also shred up some of the frilly leaves and put them in with the packet.

The reason the seeds were in the sausage is because they are spicy where the veg is fresh-tasting. Like thedifference between coriander seeds and the leaves (hang on, what do you call that - cilantro?).

By the way, don't use the green stalks, just the white bulb. Like leeks, the white bit is the best.

12:49 PM

Blogger still life said...

Mmmmmm fennel in mashed potatoes or how about grilled in a hobo pack with a medley of other veggies?

If all else fails put it in a's awfully pretty.

mwah xx

3:14 PM

Anonymous Constance said...

Just wanted to stop by and tell you smooooooches baby! :)

3:17 PM

Blogger Minka said...

I LOOOVe Fennel. We germans drink it as tea. Especially small chikdren. When baby´s stop being fed with breast milk, fenel tea is one of the first fluids, besides water, that we give to them. It is so delicious....

3:59 PM

Blogger Bela said...

Monika, here too babies drink fennel tea, in the form of gripe water. I believe fennel is the main ingredient. Fennel tea is lovely and, erm, anti-wind. You have to buy it in sachets, though. Can't make it from the fresh bulb.

Give it a try, TLP! It's delicious and different. I agree with Lulu - blanch it first if you're having it en salade.

Forgot to say: my mother used to grate it before dressing it with olive oil and lemon juice. It makes it all fluffy.

8:55 PM

Blogger indigo said...

Hi Mirelle...thanks for stopping by and your kind words to a recovering chicken pox sufferer.

You know, I've never tried fennel. Maybe I should, once I'm less spotty.

8:53 AM

Blogger Jemima said...

I thought gripe water was made from caraway, not fennel.

Oh my mother's carraway bread......

3:43 PM

Blogger Bela said...

JvS, you may be right. I thought it was fennel.

6:41 PM


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