Fennel is most often associated with French, Italian and Mediterranean cooking, but with its crunchy texture and light, licorice-y flavor, it lends itself well to salads, soups, and a wide variety of both summer and winter dishes.The entire fennel plant is edible, from bulb to tips, and the bulb and stalk are very similar to celery in nature.
Fennel contains flavonoids such as rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides, which give it strong antioxidant activity. Studies show that these flavonoids help protect against the toxic effects of BHT, a common preservative in foods.
Fennel also contains a phytonutrient called anethole. Several studies have shown that the anethole in fennel helps reduce inflammation and acts as a powerful anti-cancer agent. Antethole has also shown the capability of protecting the liver from toxic chemical damage.
Fennel is very high in vitamin C, folate, potassium, and fiber, giving it a very impressive nutritional profile indeed.
DID YOU KNOW:
-Fennel was called Marathon in ancient Greece! It grew in the field in which one of the great ancient battles was fought, and the battle was named The Battle of Marathon after the fennel plant.
-Fennel was given as an award to Pheidippides, the runner who delivered the news of the Persian invasion of Sparta!
-In Greek mythology, man received knowledge from the gods in a coal-filled fennel stalk.
HOW TO CHOOSE AND STORE FENNEL:
Pick unblemished, unbroken bulbs with full, feathery tops. Avoid bruised or broken stalks. The bulb should be light green to white, and the stalks tops should be a deep, bright green color. Avoid flowering bulbs.
Fennel will keep in the crisper for about 4 days. It can be frozen but will lose some flavor in the process.
HOW TO EAT FENNEL:
Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked. You can slice it any way you like. Some easy ways to prepare it are:
-Put fennel greens and/or sliced bulb on a sandwich along with other veggies.
-Sautee fennel bulb with garlic and onions in a bit of oil.
-Add fennel to salads.
-Add fennel to soups and stocks.
NUTRITIONAL INFO PER CUP OF FENNEL:
Sodium 45.24 mg
Potassium 360.18 mg
Total Carbohydrate 6.34 g
Dietary Fiber 2.7 g
%RDA Vitamins & Minerals:
Vitamin A 116.58 IU (2.33% DV)
Vitamin C 10.44 mg (17.4% DV)
Calcium 42.64 mg (4.26% DV)
Magnesium 14.8 mg (3.7% DV)
Iron .64 mg (3.56% DV)
Niacin .56 mg (2.8% DV)
Vitamin B6 .04 mg (2% DV)
Folate 23.5 mcg (5.88 DV)
Fennel and Garbanzo Stew
-1-2 cans garbanzo beans
1. In a large pot, stir together the garbanzo beans and veggie stock. Mix in 2 of the cloves of garlic and the red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes, or until beans are tender.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place the remaining garlic, tomatoes, and basil in the skillet, and cook 2 minutes, or just until the basil is wilted. Remove from heat, and set aside.
3. Mix the fennel and onions into the pot with the garbanzo beans. Season with salt. Continue cooking 15 minutes. Mix in the tomatoes, basil, and peas, and continue cooking 5 minutes, until peas are tender. Serve hot.
Fig and Fennel Breadadapted from a recipe at The Fresh Loaf
-2 cups whole wheat bread or pastry flour -½ cup whole grain rye flour
-1 ½ - 1 2/3 cups of room temperature water, as necessary
-2 tbs Earth Balance or other non-hydrogenated spread, melted (or just use olive oil)
-2 tbs blackstrap molasses
-1 1/2 tbs fennel seeds, toasted
-1 tbs caraway seeds
-1/4 cup rye berries, popped (heat in a dry skillet-- they pop like popcorn!) Hulled barley or walnuts substitute well but in general this ingredient is entirely optional
-¾ cups dried calimyrna figs, chopped coarsely
-2 tsp instant yeast
-1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1. Combine flours, seeds, salt, yeast and berries; whisk together
2. Combine Earth Balance, molasses, and water; whisk together
3. Combine above. Bring dough together. Knead thoroughly for about 5 minutes.
4. Add chopped figs and knead just to distribute figs. Try not to pulverize the figs.
5. Form dough into a tight ball, oil a bowl, toss to coat, cover with a moist towel, and let rest until dough has doubled in size (about an hour or so).
6. Preheat oven to 425F.
7. Shape into two loaves (spread cornmeal on your shaping surface to avoid sticking), and let them sit at room temp until about doubled in size (about 30 minutes).
8. Brush the loaves with a bit of olive oil. 9. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped.