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How do you use fresh fennel trimmings? Or do you?

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  • fern Oct 20, 2009 09:05 AM

I have a bagful of beautiful fresh fennel, just harvested by a relative on Sunday. Used some bulbs to make a gratin last night with celery, bechamel, and parm & breadcrumb topping. It was very good. Now, what should I do with the trimmings? Naturally, soup comes to mind but it has such unusual flavor that I'm not sure if that's a good idea. I've used fennel in salads before, but never cooked it so this was fun and the dish was really beautiful.

How do you use this part of the fennel, or do you just pitch it?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. I don't usually cook the fronds- I use them in salads to add extra flavor. Love the fronds with dried cranberries.

    1. if you're talking about the stalks, drop them into the poaching liquid for fish. as far as soup goes, anise/licorice is a traditional flavor in bouillabaisse.

      for the fronds, as cheesecake said, don't cook them. chop and sprinkle over salad, roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, or gratin.

      2 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        yes, i sprinkled the chopped fronds over a sweet potato bisque and it made a huge difference in flavor.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Wow! goodhealthgourmet is on my very same wavelength...

          There's a great symbiosis between salmon and the fennel stalks. I make stock including the chopped stalks in a regular mire poix; then poach fillets. I've never used the stalks in bouillabaisse, but the idea sounds absolutely wonderful for imparting a distinctive flavor without having to over-do the $$$$ saffron.

          I steer clear of the fronds. I know they look just like dill and are tempting to use for color, but I find them bitter in an unpleasant sort of way. And I'm no opponent of "bitter," either.

          Fennel's a great veggie that's only now being utilized widely (in restaurants) and it's about time.

        2. Alright, thanks for the info. I have oranges and cabbage so maybe I'll use some fennel and make a salad tonight, sprinkling fronds over.

          By the way, we ate up the rest of the fennel gratin last night and found that it tasted much stronger than the first night and had an unusual mouth feel. Not sure how to describe that, a little greasy and _____. Anyway, we learned we like it best first night so it's milder.

          Thanks again, cheesecake and ghg!

          5 Replies
          1. re: fern

            Enjoy! Oranges go really well with fennel..

            1. re: cheesecake17

              I've used leftover fennel parts to stuff chicken or turkey, it'd probably be even better with some oranges or tangerines in there too.

              1. re: coll

                I roast chickens all the time, just did two yesterday. I'll try this next time. We happen to have oranges AND tangerines on the counter right now. Have to see which is left on chicken roasting day. Thanks for the good idea!

                1. re: fern

                  The roast comes out so juicy, I guess the fruit steams inside there. It's great when you have oranges or lemons that aren't going to last much longer, a little dried up is no problem.

                2. re: coll

                  this can also be done with whole fish, or stick the trimmings under a filet you're roasting.

            2. I just made a fennel gratin as well, and I plan to use the stalks to make vegetable stock. I've never done that before but figure such a stock might work very well in a seafood risotto -- maybe with the fennel fronds as garnish. I'll use the rest of the fennel fronds to garnish things that are usually garnished with dill -- like potato pancakes.

              I was considering an experimental mirepoix with fennel stalks in place of celery, too.

              What was your fennel gratin recipe, by the way?

              Incidentally, there's a very good recipe on Epicurious for a pureed spinach, fennel and leek soup. Perhaps you could use the stalks in it if you pull out the stringy veins first -- I didn't do so when I made it, though. Check out my comment there for a variation if you're interested.

              1. always makes me crazy when someone on a cooking show tosses fennel tops. when i make chicken stock, i use a fennel bulb and the fronds, then add the sliced stalks along with carrots ans spinach to make chicken vegetable soup.

                i also like to use the stalks in place of celery for chicken salad. stored in a glass jar, they'll keep a long time in the fridge.

                1 Reply
                1. re: wonderwoman

                  Instead of using dill, we use the fronds when we make gravlax - gives it a very distinctive flavor.
                  Quite yummy.

                2. I like to saute thinly sliced fennel with olive oil (salt and pepper) until it's a little brown on the edges and then put it on pasta with some of the pasta water and snipped fennel fronds.
                  It's plain but satisfying and you can play around with it if you want to.

                  1. If I don't have an immediate use for fennel stalks, I'll freeze them to use for stock making later. They're good in chicken, seafood, or vegetable stock, particularly if you're making a soup with delicate flavors. I'm partial to potato leek soup or chicken pot pie made with fennel in the stock.

                    1. Pesto!!!!!!!