Fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family and is closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. With its crunchy and slightly sweet musky flavour, it pairs well with beets. Reminiscent of anise and licorice, Fennel is a very versatile economical food of which almost the entire plant can be used. Its composed of a white or pale green bulb from which superimposed stalks are arranged and the stalks are topped with feathery green leaves. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible.
It is thought to have originated in Southern Europe and Mediterranean regions and most often associated with Italian cooking.
”Ancient Chinese medicine found beneficial uses for fennel, from congestion to conjunctivitis, to stimulate the appetite and increase the flow of breast milk. Essential oil of fennel provides upset stomach relief, and tea made from ground fennel seeds is believed to be good for snake bites, insect bites, food poisoning, and soothing a sore throat” reports George Mateljan.
As far as nutrition is concerned, vit. C is the most active vitamin and as it contains 17% of your recommended daily value it has the strength to chase off the free radicals looking for a place to cause damage to your body, which is usually in the form of inflammation. It also contains good levels of potassium (an electrolyte that fights high blood pressure) and folate, as well as smaller in quantities: manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and copper.
High in dietary fibre, fennel helps limit cholesterol build-up and helps eliminate carcinogens from the colon.
The long, graceful fronds above the fennel bulbs contain a number of important B vitamins, such as pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), and thiamine (B1). Phytonutrients in fennel seeds and bulbs include the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and kaempferol, all antioxidants which resist infection, aging, and degenerative neurological diseases.
But the most important nutrient in this vegetable might be anethole, a component in the volatile oil of fennel and one of the most powerful agents against cancer occurrence
Due to fennel’s sweetly musky flavor it pairs well with with vegetables such as beets, carrots and sweet potatoes, with savoury roast meats and fish, pasta dishes, and even raw in salads.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Healthy sautéed fennel and onions make a wonderful side dish.
- Combine sliced fennel with avocados, and oranges for a delightful salad.
- Next time you are looking for a new way to adorn your sandwiches, consider adding sliced fennel in addition to the traditional toppings of lettuce and tomato.
- Top thinly sliced fennel with plain yogurt and mint leaves.
- Fennel is a match made in Heaven when served with salmon.
[Sources: Dr Mercola and George Mateljan]
Beet & Fennel Soup with Kefir
(All these items available in the BAGS this week- Click here)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 large (2 1/2-to 3-inch-diameter) beets, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups low-salt chicken/vegetable broth
1 cup unflavored kefir
Additional unflavored kefir
Fennel fronds (for garnish)
Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion, chopped fennel, and fennel seeds. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add cubed beets and stir to coat. Add chicken/veg broth and bring to boil. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until beets are tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Puree soup in batches in blender. Return to same saucepan. Whisk in 1 cup unflavored kefir and season soup with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rewarm soup.
Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with additional unflavored kefir; garnish with fennel fronds.
Per serving: 146 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g fiber
[Source: BON APPÉTIT TEST KITCHEN, Jan 2011 ]
Roasted Beet & Fennel Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
PREP TIME: 10 MINS. COOK TIME: 30 MINS. SERVES: 2
2 medium-sized fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced into 1 inch pieces (save the trimmings for another use)
2-3 large beets, cut into 1 inch cubes, save the beet greens and chop them up as well.
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa ~ optional
1 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Citrus Vinaigrette:
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dijon style mustard
2 TBS lemon juice
2TBS lime juice
1 1/2 TBS fresh orange juice
fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Taste test and set aside.
In a large bowl combine the chopped fennel and beets together. Drizzle with olive oil salt and pepper. Place on a prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven until beets are fork tender and fennel is browned on both sides. About 20 minutes. Toss veggies once halfway through cooking time.
If using, cook quinoa according to your specific brands instructions. Once quinoa has about 2 minutes left of cooking place chopped beet greens in with the quinoa so they steam up a bit.
Combine roasted veggies with quinoa and beet greens. Drizzle with dressing and enjoy. This tastes great warm, at room temperature, or even chilled.
Use this recipe as a guide. Adjust ingredients and measurements as needed. Always taste test as you go!
[Source: http://dishingupthedirt.com/farm-fresh/beets/roasted-beet-and-fennel-salad-with-citrus-vinaigrette/ ]