I have to be honest with you …..Fennel is not one of my favorite herbs. Having never been a licorice fan, it is hard for me to separate when I smell fennel. Fennel has such a strong fragrant smell but it has a number of wonderful uses that even if you are not a fan, there is a LOT to love about this plant.
Truly, there isn’t an herb I don’t like on this planet as there is always something magical in just about every herb and flower on this planet. So we will share a few amazing facts about the fennel plant.
One of the most delightful aspects of Fennel’s healing properties is that it is said to improve eyesight just by eating the seeds. Ancient Romans called it the herb of sight.
Fennel can be used as a diuretic, for chronic coughs, easing flatulence and teething in infants, colic, and was known historically as a galactogogue in helping breast feed infants. The phytoestrogens are possibly beneficial for breast tissue!! Give the silicon industry a run for their money huh!
Also, fleas do not like fennel! Good to know as many kennels and vet clinics use fennel powder instead of pesticides.
And here are some great recipes using Fennel.
Fennel and Anchovy Pizza
makes one 10-12″ pizza
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin
a few spoonfuls flour
1 ball pizza dough (see link below for No-Knead)
a few spoonfuls coarse cornmeal
2-3 oz mozzarella cheese slices
2-3 anchovy fillets, torn into pieces
1 teaspoon lemon zest
a few cracks freshly ground pepper
8-10 one-inch pinched fennel fronds
Preheat oven to 500° F. If you have a pizza stone, stick it in the oven.
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add fennel slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned. Remove from heat.
With floured hands over a floured surface, stretch or toss (if you know how) the dough until it is 10-12″, taking care not to stretch it too thin. Uneven is okay, this dough makes a rustic crust. No need to aim for a perfect circle either. Press small thumbprints around the crust and brush with remaining tablespoon olive oil.
Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and transfer the crust over. Re-shape if it’s gone askew. Top with the mozzarella slices, fennel, and anchovy. Slide onto the pizza stone, or place baking sheet in oven.
Cook until crust looks golden brown and cheese is bubbling, 6-10 minutes. When ready, carefully
pull from the oven, top with lemon zest, a few cracks of pepper and the fennel fronds. Slice and serve.
CORNMEAL FENNEL COOKIES
Cornmeal gives these tender cookies a pleasing texture and slightly nutty taste. Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes, plus at least 2 hours chilling time. Notes: Lightly grind fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
- 3 tablespoons fine yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add fennel seeds and salt. Add egg and beat to combine.
2. In a small bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, and baking powder. Add these dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 batches, mixing after each addition. Shape dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
3. Preheat oven to 375°. Break off small bits of dough and roll into balls about 1 1/2 in. wide. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets. Gently flatten each cookie using the bottom of a water glass (dip the glass in water to prevent sticking). Bake cookies for 8 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed. Transfer cookies to cooling racks. Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons fennel pollen
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup raisins
3 cups of fuji apples, chopped in small chunks
Brown sugar (or demerara sugar) for topping
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and fennel pollen in a bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and sugar, then whisk in the sour cream. Mix the flour mixture into the egg and sour cream mixture. Fold in raisins and apples.
Pour into a well-greased round 9-inch cake springform pan. Sprinkle generously and evenly with brown sugar. Bake on 350ºF for about 35 minutes or until the tester comes out clean.
And this LOVELY recipe from “What’s for Lunch Honey?” (http://www.whatsforlunchhoney.net) Do visit Meeta’s website as the photos of this dish are wonderful! I should get the camera she uses, her shots are just great!! She would be a great Freunde!
Spanish Tortilla with Asparagus, Fennel and Cress
2-3 medium sized potatoes, medium size cubes
250g asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
Glug of extra virgin olive oil
Pinch fleur de sel
Handful of garden cress
- Heat a small drizzle of olive oil in a medium sized non-stick pan. Add the potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes then reduce heat and continue cooking for about 10-15 minutes, turning frequently and making sure the potatoes do not brown. The potatoes should be soft and tender without taking on any color. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add another drizzle of oil in the pan and heat to medium again- Add the unpeeled garlic, then the asparagus, toss to coat in the oil. After about 3-4 minutes add the sliced fennel and continue to sauté for a further few minutes. The vegetables should be slightly crunchy and not cooked through. Sprinkle with some fleur de sel and toss well. Remove from heat and set aside. Remember to take out the garlic clove and discard.
- In a large bowl lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of fleur de sel. Add the potatoes, cress and vegetables to the egg mixture and stir to coat.
- Turn the heat to medium and add the egg mixture in the pan. With a wooden spoon give the mixture in the pan a good stir. Once the eggs start to cook leave the mixture to set, simply evening the top. Cook for 2-4 minutes on this side.
- With a help of a plate flip the tortilla and cook for another 2-4 minutes on this side. Depending on how you like your eggs cook it for more or less.
- Sprinkle with some cress, cut into wedges and serve warm.
FENNEL and RADISH SALAD
2 bulbs of fennel
the juice of 1 lemon
50ml olive oil
1 bunch chives, chopped
Cut the fennel in half and chop out the root. Using a mandoline, slice the fennel as thinly as possible, place in a bowl, season with salt, pepper, the lemon juice and olive oil and leave to marinate for 10 minutes. Slice the radishes lengthways and add to the fennel. Mix well then finish with the chopped chives.
Get your Fennel today and enjoy its many benefits.