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Fennel fantastic

Food24's Chef Caro flips over fabulous fennel.

by: Caro de Waal: Food24 | 29 May 2009

In Greek mythology, Prometheus used the stalk of a fennel plant to steal fire from the gods. It was also the wand of Dionysis. This stuff has super powers.

Fennel is a hardy, perennial herb that often grows wild along the road side. Originally from the Mediterranean region, it is cultivated all over the world for its edible, strong anise-flavoured leaves and seeds.

Its voluptuous sister Florence fennel, has an inflated leaf base and produces the bulb that is used as a vegetable. She has a more delicate, sweeter anise flavour and is popular in Italian cooking.

Fennel is also highly gifted, and not only has culinary, but medicinal uses as well. Already used in India to help with eyesight, it has also recently featured positively in studies on hypertension. And it has a great talent in combating flatulence. Hey guys, bring it on.

You can use them raw in a salad or braised for hours. Or use the seeds, crushed and toasted, in all sorts of curries and fabulous dishes.

Now that they're in season, I suggest we all get going with these interesting and unique baubles of flavour. In particular, the baby fennel is just gorgeous.

And for fun, try drinking plain water after you eat some raw seeds. It tastes amazingly sweet.

For a lovely wintry start, try this barley, fennel and bacon salad. And to get things going, this potato and fennel soup.

A superb main course would be this beautiful orange, sage and fennel roast pork. Wonderful for a Sunday lunch with the whole family.

I am having a great old time experimenting with fennel this autumn. Brandish your wooden spoons people, and try my braised fennel with honey, lemon and chorizo. Its great with pasta, or as an accompaniment to fish, or just on its own with some warm crusty bread.

And check out what blogger Mint Tea and Tagine's been doing over in Morrocco.

I look forward to hearing about your favourite, or new recipes, go wild!

- None


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