What does fennel taste like and what we know about it? This cold-weather and underrated vegetable deserves much love and a permanent place on the dinner table.
Known as a common flowering plant of the carrot family, fennel is one of the most commonly used herbs out there.
Fennel boasts feathery leaves and yellow flowers, which makes it a flavorful and aromatic herb that has become a common part of every kitchen pantry. However, to use it to perfection, you need to be aware of the flavor, and that’s exactly what we are sharing you.
Continue reading to find out the benefits, how to cook it, the flavor, and so much more!
The Taste Of Fennel & Benefits
Fennel is a cold-weather vegetable and boasts a unique flavor with a slight sweetness. For the most part, the uncooked fennel has a mild licorice flavor along with a crunchy texture.
On the other hand, when the fennel is cooked, its flavor will become more delicate while the texture tends to soften down.
Fennel is rich in fiber, magnesium, ion, and calcium. Fennel helps suppress appetite and is beneficial to your heart health. Fennel may also help to reduce inflammation and improve memory.
How To Cook It?
When the fennel is roasted, it will achieve a sweeter flavor as compared to other vegetables with a raw state.
Fennel can be baked, braised, and sautéed and makes a fine addition to stews and soups like in this French Veal and Fennel Stew.
As far as the feathery leaves, or frond are concerned, their flavor is even milder, which can be added to salads or makes an apt garnish.
Here’s The Breakdown – What To Do With Fennel?
For the most part, fennel has a light flavor along with anise undertones. However, if you aren’t sure what flavor it will impart in the recipe, you can consider it similar to licorice root or black licorice because these are the most prominent flavors.
In the majority of cases, it has a mild flavor. When it comes down to the texture, the raw fennel has it similar to celery – crunchy and crispy.
For this reason, it can be sliced like onions and instilled into the salads for adding fresh and bright flavor. Even more, it can be added in raw form to the celery, given the sweet flavor.
On the other hand, the lightly cooked funnels will be able to retain the crispness (yup, just like bok choy), but with a bit more cooking, it will become tender and soft.
How to cook fennel?
Fennel can be cooked in a number of ways. Here are some choices:
Add them to soup: Fennel adds a depth of flavor when added to soups and stews. You can slice or dice them and prepare with other vegetables.
Roast, Bake Or Grill them: Just like onions, you can also grill fennel. Before grilling, roasting, or baking them, add extra virgin olive oil to them and season lightly with salt and pepper.
The raw fennel has an anise-like and complex flavor, which makes it ideal for brown stews and sauces. Also, it tends to range from mild to pungent when it comes down to intensity. When it’s cooked, it will lose intensity, and the stalks tend to be a bit tougher and fibrous. However, we often forget that there are different parts of the funnel, and all of them have unique flavors, such as;
- Fennel Seeds – they taste just like fronds. They tend to be aromatic and fresh, and some might even enjoy mild grassy undertone
- Fennel Fronds – the fronds have a strong flavor of anise, which makes them suitable to be added to pesto, salmon, and salads. These fronds look like dill and will make an apt garnish with a strong flavor as compared to bulbs and will boast a soft texture.
Just like we use ginger to make ginger tea, you can also use fennel to make tea as well. The tea will helpyou better to understand its flavor. For the most part, fennel tea boasts a relaxing aroma while the flavor is fresher and like aniseeds.
In fact, the tea delivers a slightly bitter and acrid aftertaste. Topping it all, fennel tea is great for improving memory and digestion.
Which Parts Of Fennel Are Edible?
When it comes down to the fennel, you can consume as much fennel as you want because the entire vegetable is suitable from bottom to top. However, the rounded and white base remains the yummiest part with its sweet flavor and delicate texture. Also, this is the only part of the fennel that you should consume in its raw form.
On the other hand, the green stalks tend to be hard, which is why it’s important to cook them. All in all, it doesn’t matter which part of the fennel you use; it can flavor up the sauces and soups.
Selecting The Right Fennel
To enjoy the best flavor and aroma of these fennels, you need to ensure that you select the right fennel, and we are sharing the tips;
- It is suggested to look for fennel’s bulbs that are white, clean, and without any spots, blemishes, and bruises
- Make sure that the fronds are bright green and fresh to look at
- Look for fennel with long and firm stalks, which promises freshness
Adding It To Soup – The Bulb
For people who are fond of parsnips in soup, we are sure you will like fennels as well. To illustrate, it will add mild anise flavor (as stated above) and sweetness to the soup.
The best part about fennel is that it won’t overwhelm the flavor, irrespective of what you add it to, ranging from roasted veggies to soups.
In fact, when fennel is mixed and cooked with other ingredients, it will add an earthy and natural sweetness to the dish rather than overpowering the dish with strong herbal notes.
What To Pair With Fennel?
We have already shared so much about the flavor of fennel, which means it has a unique palette and only goes with limited food items.
Having said that, fennel tastes the best with garlic, onions, and tomatoes. In addition, it goes well with rosemary, basil, oregano, and allspice when it comes down to spices.
On the other hand, it can be paired with different types of meat, including this vegetarian wellington, as well as seafood, sausages, chicken, and pairs well with this leg of lamb or roasted lamb chops. Surprisingly, it goes well with an apple as well!
Are There Any Varieties Of Funnel Available?
Yes, there is a wide variety of fennels out there, but Florence fennel is one of the most common varieties out there.
Florence funnel is regularly available in the supermarkets, and some grocery stores chop off the fronds before putting them up for sale. Also, there is another variety known as sweet fennel, which is usually used to make fennel seeds.
Fronds & The Bottom Line
Fennel adds great freshness to the heavier recipes, while its crispy texture and mild sweetness make it an apt addition to salads and other recipes.
Not to forget, you can always use fronds for decorating the soup, fish, pasta like in this Haitian spaghetti, and this garden salad or kale salad.
It warms our hearts to see the recipes you make from this site. To learn more about the foods we eat, read all about the yellow yams here, or how to boil plantains.
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I’m on a low carb diet, and so I’m a big fennel fan because it’s Keto friendly. Thanks so much for all the good tips!
Thank you so much, Emily.
This is such a great information, thanks for sharing. I love fennel, and love the idea of adding it soups! YUM
Thank you, Kechi.
Great tips, can’t wait to cook more with fennel, such a good flavor!
Fennel isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but my fiance loves it. Thanks for this article! 🙂
Thank you, Carrie.
A great overview on a great ingredient! Thanks for all the info!
Thank you, Cara.