Yum, Is That Fennel?

If you’re anything like most people, you’re not really sure what fennel is and you’re not really sure you care to know.  But let me convince you otherwise…

So, for the past few weeks Jon has been on summer vacation, which means he’s still working, but he’s on a short break from school between summer and fall quarters.  What this means for the Kidwell household is that Jon has been studying up on cooking techniques, experimenting constantly with new flavors and foods and spending our extra money on “mandatory” kitchen and cooking supplies.  Hey, I buy excess hair products and Jon buys excess cooking supplies – so fair is fair…is it weird that I have 5 different bottles of shampoo and 6 bottles of conditioner/hair treatments in my shower at the moment???  Important notice to any blondes who think it would be fun to use permanent dark hair dye on their hair: DON’T! You will regret the damage it does to your hair when you decide to go back to blonde, I promise you.  Use a demi-permanent color please!  Anyway, what was I writing about??  Oh yes, Jon and fennel…

So during Jon’s hiatus from school I’ve been amazed at just how much better and more creative our meals have been now that he’s had time to invest into cooking.  Suddenly, all our meals end up with strange, but delicious green herbs and we find ourselves trying things we’ve never tried before.  It’s been quite enjoyable (Although, we are needing to re-establish a food budget once again.  Bah, hate food budgets).

One of Jon’s recent additions to our weekly grocery list has been fennel.  It’s an herb, although the root is big so it can be used as more of a vegetable.  Actually, if you live in San Luis Obispo, you can find it growing wild everywhere, especially on the stretch between SLO and Los Osos.

Fennel is very recognizable because whether you by it dried or fresh, the smell strikingly resembles black licorice.  BUT, before you stop reading (all you black licorice haters out there) it does NOT TASTE like black licorice when combined with other foods and flavors.  Here are a few ways we have used fennel recently…

By: Jon

Fennel has three parts:  the root (white crunchy) the stalks (celeryish?) and the “tops” (the fine dill liking leaves)  and wild fennel has those yellow flowers which you can eat as well.  The whole thing has the same anisey taste.

Cooked: Ive grilled the roots sliced up on a kabob.

Ive cut up the root and put it in a roasting dish and layed the stalks out, put a piece of fish on top of the stalks, and cover/rub with chopped fennel tops and lemon zest, then pour a little white wine and butter and salt and pepper and roast until fish is done (fennel goes great with white fish)

You can also sneak fennel into any sauce or stew

Raw:  I slice/chop the roots and stalks finely because they are harder to eat in large chuncks because they so tough…so they are cruncy and good in any salad really, but especially with celery, carrots, onions, radishes….and you can use the whole fennel too!

Umm……Ive used it in potato salad too and its great…..

Oh and here is the recipe for the chicken wraps that I made for lunch today:

Chicken Wraps With Fennel

First, made a salad:  chopped fennel (roots, stalks, and tops), grated carrots, sliced celery, chopped lettuce, sliced (small) lemon cucumber, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper

The wrap had mayo, chicken, the salad above, greek yogurt, and drizzle of olive oil

So there you have it!  Fennel is awesome.

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