Food 5 of 30: Fennel

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I’m happy to report that all of my new foods thus far have been fruits or vegetables. I would say I’m someone who eats a lot of produce, maybe more than average, but I’m finding that there are many varieties of fruits and vegetables that I’ve never had! I once read that the average person eats about 30 foods on a regular basis. I would guess my number is probably around that even though I’d like to think it’s higher. Off the top of my head, some of my current weekly staples include: carrots, apples, cheese, hummus, coconut milk, plain Greek yogurt, kale, red onion, eggs, garlic, beans, avocados, tortillas, peanut butter, coconut, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, and tortilla chips to name just a handful. Wait, is my list smaller than 30? It might just be; how boring. Actually no, this list is totally dependent on season and in the summer it would be much longer due to the abundance of seasonal produce. I’d guess the same is true for you.

My new food this week was fennel! Like leeks, I would imagine I’ve had fennel in a dish at someone’s home or a restaurant, but I’ve never prepared nor purchased this plant, which I believe is classified as an herb. The first thing I noticed upon cutting it was that it smelled like black licorice, which is my favorite type of licorice. All in all this vegetable started out on the plus side for me.

I’m not a food blogger so I’m going to spare you step by step directions regarding how I used fennel and instead just direct you to the recipe from Taste of Home that I followed. I will give you step by step directions as to how to cut and use fennel as that’s more what this post is about!

First things first, this is what fennel looks like:IMG_2954I really didn’t know how to select fennel and they all looked healthy so I just grabbed one towards the back because I always think those have been handled less by other shoppers. When I got it home I had to do a little investigation to determine what part of the plant I use and how to cut and prepare it. First things first, cut off the bottom. IMG_2956Next you will want to take away the outermost flesh. Similar to an onoin, this is usually thicker, tougher to slice, and sometimes dirty or damaged from sitting in the store. IMG_2957Inside you will find a beautiful, blemish-free bulb! Now you will cut the tops, or fronds off. I read that you can use the fronds for various purposes from making pesto to seasoning salads but I didn’t use them in the soup I made. IMG_2958Next, cut the bulb in half. This is when I started to smell the licorice! There’s a little triangular shaped center which you remove before slicing the rest of your fennel bulb! IMG_2959IMG_2962My recipe called for a small bulb and I think this was probably more fennel than was necessary so I have one-half left for a stir fry or pasta sauce later this week!

Food #5: Fennel
And that is: A plant/herb with a bulbous root (is that part considered a vegetable?) that is indigenous to the Mediterranean but now grows elsewhere. It is eaten and used for medicinal purposes.
Found where: Gateway Market
Cost: $3
Health Benefits: I’ve read that it can be used to make a syrup which treats babies for colic. I’ve also read that it is good for the digestive tract. Some studies show that an extract of fennel can help with glaucoma.
Prepared How: I sliced it up and then added it to a white bean and fennel soup.
Yea or Nay? Yea! I’d gladly purchase and prepare fennel again. I’m actually curious about using the fronds so maybe that will be another post. Stay tuned!

Have you had fennel? Do you typically purchase the same produce each week or branch out? I encourage you to try something new this week!