Fennel

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We’ve tried growing fennel in the past and not had good success, but this year’s crop is gorgeous and ready for distribution in our Veggie Lovers’ Club CSA this week!  (July 14 & 15, 2020).

You may be familiar with Fennel Seeds as they are a widely used spice: Think Italian sausage!  Fresh fennel bulbs are a bit different but the flavour pairs well with anything you’re already using fennel seeds in.  The whites and entire green tops are useable.

Preparation Tips: Fennel is in the carrot/celery family (Apiacae) and has a pleasant anise flavour (licorice).  It is shocking how well that flavour pairs with tomatoes.  My secret to making the best tomato sauce ever, that tastes like an Italian grandmother slaved over it, is adding thinly sliced fennel to the onions and garlic while they’re sweating.  It balances all of the flavours and acidity perfectly, and tastes divine!

This is a “weird one” folks, so I anticipate the CSA trade bin will see some traffic this week, and that’s ok.  But I totally encourage you to try it!

The recipe that I first fell in love with Fennel over was this one:

FennelOrange Fennel Orange Salad

The link is to a very simple version, that can be easily improved by adding other greens.  Highly recommend the addition of massaged Kale, and make sure you use the top “fronds” of the plant as well!  Looks like dill, tastes refreshingly like licorice!  The orange is usually juicy enough to not require any additional dressing for my taste.

Here’s Martha again to teach you how to cut a fennel bulb!

Generally, it’s best to slice it as thin as possible as it can be a bit tough to chew otherwise.  I like to (very carefully!) slice it on a mandolin for even, thin slices!

Check out this recipe shared with me by a lady at market.  She is Italian and so had a ton of ideas of how to use fennel!  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/249459/tomato-fennel-salad/

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Tomato and Fennel Salad

Season: Fennel can be grown all year here but this planting was a trial.  We will see how it goes over and if it goes well we will plan to have a few plantings in 2021!  It is started as a transplant in the greenhouse but then quickly matures in the field, so we could easily do a few plantings most years.

Storage Tips: Keep this completely covered in a plastic bag or container in your fridge (you will probably need 2 grocery bags to cover it).  Cut fennel will turn brown (oxidize) quickly when cut so if you’re cutting it ahead of time make sure you squeeze some lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar on it.

I believe in people, especially CSA members, getting the whole vegetable when possible, not just “the part that most people think is edible”.  So we won’t be trimming this fennel much unless we need to for fitting it into harvest tubs or your bags.  The entire top is edible and very flavorful!  It might feel a bit overwhelming all at once.  It’s a great thing to chop up and keep in the freezer for in the fall when you have an abundance of tomatoes and want to make sauce!  I suggest eating the bulb now and some of the fronds, but maybe you’ll want to wash, chop & freeze most of the tops for later.  It’s even a great addition to Pho broth, which is mine & Jon’s current culinary obsession!

I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love your feedback if you get a chance!

 

 

 

 

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