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Mar 8, 2013 05:58 PM

Fennel questions

My family just signed up for a biweekly delivery from a local farm. We got our second shipment today, and so far have been very happy! Last week our box included two fennel bulbs, which were fun to experiment with. This week we have two more fennel bulbs, and I figure I should probably learn how to actually use it!

I've found a lot of recipes for bread that include fennel seeds. Can I replace those with the part of the stalk that looks like dill or is that a completely different flavor?

I have found several recipes that look good using only the bulb, what can I do with the stalks and hairy part (for lack of a better description)? Any other fennel tips or recipes?

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  1. One of my favorite preparations is to shave the bulb very thinly and layer with potato to make scalloped potato, and fennel. It's delicious chopped and sauteed in a seafood cioppino base.

    1. Seeds and bulbs are not interchangeable.
      The stalks and fronds do not have much flavor but are totally edible.

      5 Replies
      1. re: chefj

        I figured that. Are seeds and fronds interchangeable?

        1. re: fancynancypants

          not really.

          Have you tasted the fronds?

          I can only use a fraction of the stalks and fronds, and have to toss the rest. The stalks tend to be tough, though slicing very thin helps. I also use them in stocks where texture does not matter.

          A small amount of the fronds work as a garnish. Other than that it's not worth chopping them up. But you can decide for yourself whether the texture is something you like or not.

          1. re: paulj

            Ok thanks! It seems like such a waste of the beautiful fronds, but I'm not really planning on making stocks or garnishing anytime soon.

            1. re: fancynancypants

              The fronds did their job while the bulb was in the ground.

              1. re: fancynancypants

                The stalks can be used under roasted or grilled meat or fowl or fish, and in vegetable or fish stock.

                You don't have to plan on garnishing, but if you don't want to waste fronds why not sprinkle them, chopped, over salad or stew or soup or grain dish or fish, or incorporate them into egg or potato or chicken salad?

                You can also combine chopped fronds with softened butter and freeze the butter in a roll, for later use with fish or chicken or finishing a sauce. (The compound butter technique works well with other briefly available fresh green herbs as well: dill, tarragon, chervil, basil).

        2. I love fennel!!!

          One of my favorite salads:

          Roasted fennel is fabulous. trim the fronds and reserve. Slice the bulbs length wise into thirds, lay them in a glass baking dish, season with S&P, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Roast until tender and the cheese is browned. Finely chop the reserved fronds and sprinkle on top before serving.

          this is wonderful dip, serve with toasted bread.

          One of my favorite things I can't find in the states is finnochio- a fennel sausage. While not quite the same I have had luck making fennel pork patties by blending ground pork with finely chopped roasted fennel, fennel seeds, minced fennel fronds, onion and garlic.

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodieX2

            I've seen it - most "Italian" sausage at the markets have fennel - but I've seen Italian and Fennel sausage right next to each other - can't remember where - but you could also try Faicco's Pork Store in NY - I don't think that they have a website - great place!

            or are you talking about finochiona dry sausage? If so, I've seen this in many places - Molinari out of SF makes a good one which you should be able to get -

          2. There are lots of great ideas in this thread:

            We're big fans here of both cooked and raw fennel.

            1. A fennel and onion gratin is a lovely thing to accompany fish and fowl.

              I put some fennel into mirepoix for salmon...a nice note.