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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: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/...

          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.
          http://food52.com/recipes/8908-roaste...

          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 - http://nymag.com/listings/stores/faic... 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: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/886191

            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.

              1. Update:

                Last week's fennel experiment was a fennel and fingerling potato confit - delicious!

                Tonight I made a salad with fresh greens, sliced fennel, oranges, cranberries, almonds, red onions, and a red wine vinaigrette . Family loved it, I think I prefer cooked fennel.

                Now I'm off to browse through that topic suggested by Frizzle :)

                1. Here are two semi fennel based ideas for you -

                  Fish (any nice filet fish) - with tomato fennel and saffron sauce -
                  cut up your fennel (save some fronds for garnish) - add some onion, saute low until soft - add garlic, saute, add grated or blended tomato (not too much), cook for a few minutes, add saffron, fish stock (clam juice or lobster stock works too - or even chicken broth is ok) - cook all for a little while - blend well and strain or don't if you strain this you might need to thicken slightly, use roux or beurre manie, salt and pepper to taste - add cream or don't - serve with potatoes and/or sauteed greens - salt and pepper your fish and pan fry - top with one fennel frond - it's really good!

                  Tuna Salad - Italian or Spanish Tuna in oil, drained, add chopped celery and celery leaves, chopped fennel and fennel fronds, white beans, scallions, lot's of lemon juice and lemon zest, lot's of pepper and salt - and then some fruity olive oil - very summery and fresh!

                  1. Lucky you w fennel in your CSA! We love fennel and I put the entire vegetable to use.

                    The fronds (hairy part) are great used like a delicate herb. Chop them and use them to top dishes to which you've added fennel. It adds another layer of flavour and, enhances the visual appeal of a dish.

                    The stalks are more fibrous and sometimes a little more bitter than the bulbs but are definitely tasty and worth using. You can use them any where the bulb is called for however, I'd advise that you chop them finely (a food processor makes quick work of this). Alone you can use them in stocks, soups, spaghetti sauces, stuffing etc.

                    The bulbs are the mvp of the veggie and this is the part you'll have no difficulty finding use for. There are tons of recipes out there and you've been given some great advice here.

                    I thought I'd share links to some of our recent favourites:

                    Grilled Fennel Flatbread with Olives and Sultanas:

                    http://pinterest.com/pin/283797213990...

                    Roast Fennel with Breadcrumbs, Parsley and Parmesan:

                    http://pinterest.com/pin/283797213990...

                    Roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip:

                    http://pinterest.com/pin/283797213990...

                    Martha's Fennel & Potato Bake:

                    http://pinterest.com/pin/283797213989...

                    1. Pickling fennel - as you would briefly pickle beets - is one of my favorite applications.

                      1. The stalks are very stringy, I use the fronds for garnish or add to chick or tuna salad, the stocks can be used in stocks.

                        1. Thanks for all these great suggestions! After all your comments, I think I HAVE to go find a recipe for soup using fennel

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: fancynancypants

                            Here are two really nice ones:

                            Fennel, Garlic and Potato Soup:

                            http://pinterest.com/pin/283797213990...

                            Italian Roasted Tomato, Onion & Fennel Soup:

                            http://pinterest.com/pin/283797213990...

                            1. re: fancynancypants

                              This is not so much a soup as a stew, but I know that bouillabaisse often uses chopped fennel fronds. I really like this recipe:

                              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                              I also agree with previous posters that fennel fronds are good (and pretty) chopped finely over a dish in which you're using fennel bulbs, since I don't think the fronds have that strong a flavor.

                              1. re: fancynancypants

                                here are two (both freeze well):

                                sweet potato soup:

                                2.5 pounds (give or take) assorted sweet potatoes
                                1 pound yellow onions
                                8-10 garlic cloves
                                1 bulb fennel
                                2 granny smith apples
                                olive oil, salt and pepper
                                chicken or vegetable stock (or water)

                                preheat oven to 500-degrees. peel, core, chop; toss with oil, salt and pepper; roast for 30 minutes. transfer to 3-quart saucepan. add vegetable or chicken stock to cover. simmer for 20 minutes. let cool, them puree ( i use an immersion blender).

                                roasted tomato soup...

                                2 cartons cherry or grape tomatoes (any kind of tomato will do)
                                1 bulb fennel, rough chopped
                                6-8 shallots (or 1 large onion)
                                6-8 cloves garlic
                                2 tablespoons olive oil
                                salt, pepper
                                1 quart chicken stock (vegetable stock or water)
                                1-2 sprigs rosemary
                                1-2 parmesan rinds

                                Pre-heat oven to 450-degrees. Toss tomatoes, fennel, shallots (or onion), garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450-degrees for 30 minutes. Transfer to pot, cover with liquid, add rosemary and parmesan rinds. Simmer until veggies are completely soft. let sit until cool. Remove rosemary and rinds before pureeing.

                                Can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. .

                              2. Often I'll use the tender inner part of the bulb for salad, and use the tougher outer layer, parts of the stems, and the core in place celery in mirepoix.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: paulj

                                  +1

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    What is mirepoix?

                                    1. re: fancynancypants

                                      Someone else using fennel this way, except they choose to use the Italian sofritto term
                                      http://www.edibleparadise.com/article...

                                      1. re: fancynancypants

                                        "Mirepoix" is the name given to the mixture of diced/chopped onions, carrots, & celery that make up the base for many, many dishes, soups, sauces, etc.

                                    2. Slice fennel bulb fairly thinly. Quarter a small head of radicchio. Slice sweet onions. Brush all with olive oil. Grill in a grill basket until onions are somewhat caramelized. Learned that from my CSA.

                                      For a salad: shave or slice bulb thinly, slice thinly onion, serve with good black olives and clementine or orange sections and a viniagrette made with sherry vinegar.

                                      1. Once in a while I find fennel which has crisp and tender stalks. I use it as I would celery. Very nice chopped and added raw to potato or tuna salad. It is super good in curried chicken salad!

                                        I like to roast fennel with potatoes, preserved lemons and a white fish - cod or sheepshead work well. I make extra and the leftovers become the basis for chowder the next day.

                                        There is a recipe in the recent COTM Jerusalem thread which features fennel bulb. I felt it was excellent!

                                        http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/f...

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/884302

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: meatn3

                                          Oh I like your idea of putting the finely chopped fennel into tuna salad (or salmon salad would be good too) - brilliant meatn....I'll definitely give that a try!

                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            Oh my - salmon salad would be terrific! Which shifted my thoughts to smoked fish...fennel could pair nicely and cut the oiliness of smoked fish. Could be the basis of a nice fish spread?

                                            1. re: meatn3

                                              Love that idea meatn...a spread would be outstanding!!

                                        2. Apart from using as a garnish, the fronds can also be used to stuff inside a whole fish before grilling or roasting.

                                          As far as the stalks go, both they (& the fronds) can be used to make a "bed" for grilling seafood - especially whole fish.

                                          1. Very thinly sliced fennel bulb over sliced navel or blood oranges, with thinly sliced red onion, some good black oil cured (or brine cured) Greek, Italian, or Moroccan olives, black pepper, salt, and very good olive pil. Use fronds as a garnish. Lemon juice or the juice from the squeezed orange rinds, if there's any. A classic Sicilian salad that's ridiculously refreshing.