One stalk vegetable I adore that many people seem to overlook is fennel. October marks the start of fennel-growing season in the U.S., so I thought it would be fun to focus on it.
Raw fennel greens have a fresh, bright anise flavor that complements almost any dish. The stalks taste slightly sweet too, and are super crisp when you bite into them. Fennel can frequently replace celery in Mediterranean dishes. It has the same crunch of celery, but without the stringy fibers that can make celery tough on dental work!
What to Look for
If you’ve never shopped for fennel before, you’re in for a treat. Look for well-shaped white bulbs. The bulbs should have a uniform color with no brown patches. Be sure to steer clear of wilted leaves; they’re a red flag that the fennel is past its “best by” date.
The Secret to a Paper-Thin Slice
I adore the taste of fennel with lettuces such as red leaf and Romaine. That’s partially what prompted me to create the recipe Green Salad with Fennel, Cherry Tomatoes, and Watermelon. I slice the fennel paper-thin and scatter it through the salad and dress it with my divine Lemon-Herb Dressing.
Slicing a bulb of fennel may look challenging, but it’s really quite simple. To thinly slice a bulb of fennel, trim off the stems and a little of the hard base and cut the bulb in half lengthwise. Put each half cut-side down on the cutting board and thinly slice it crosswise with a sharp knife.
For the supremely thin and uniform slices I like to put into my own salads, I recommend using a mandoline. A mandoline is a hand-operated utensil with a variety of blades for slicing and julienning fruits and vegetables uniformly. It makes working with fennel that much easier.
Related Recipes: Green Salad with Fennel, Cherry Tomatoes, and Watermelon