Fennel: A Veggie with Flair

Whether you're leaving the market with bags full of your local favorites or picking up a CSA subscription, there's no mistaking when you've scored some fennel. With its pluming fronds and distinctive, anise scent fennel is a diva of the vegetable world - and rightly so! Popular in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family alongside parsley, carrots, dill and coriander.

Fennel has a rich history reaching as far back as 500 BC and was a prominent vegetable since early Grecian times. In fact, called "marathon" by the Greeks, the Battle of Marathon between the Greeks and the Persians was so named because it was fought on a field of fennel! It was valued for its healing properties and even hung in homes throughout the Middle Ages to ward off bad spirits.

A powerhouse in the health department, fennel not only boasts a fair amount of vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium, it also contains valuable phytonutrients and flavonoids, giving it strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects. It has also been used historically to sooth the stomach, maintain healthy eyesight and treat high blood pressure.

When choosing your fennel, look for firm, white bulbs without signs of splitting and a pleasant, licorice-like smell. Fresh fennel can be stored in the refrigerator crisper for up to 5 days, but has the most flavor when consumed as fresh as possible. With exciting recipes like these, we're sure you'll have no problem doing that:

1.  Add thin raw slices of the bulb to your coleslaw, chicken salad or tuna salad

2.  Top deviled eggs and other apps with a bit of green frond

3.  Caramelize thin slices of the bulb and add it to any sandwich or salad

4.  Try this recipe for Buttermilk‐Marinated Fennel with Citrus, Peppers, and Olive Oil Fried Croutons from Chef EJ Hodgkinson of Woodfire Grill 

- Kimmy Coburn