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A perennial plant, the ever aromatic fennel finds its way on to many plates during the months of spring. Considered similar to the anise plant in flavor, fennel contains a subtle licorice flavor that accentuates a variety of salads. This doesn’t mean, however, that fennel’s use is limited only atop leafy green salads. In fact, excluding the roots, the entire the vegetable, from the small yellow flowers (known as fennel “pollen”) to the dried and aromatic fennel seeds, and of course the crisp lightly flavored bulb can be used in cooking.With the use of these many parts of the plant, fennel yields a variety of anise-like flavors and an assortment of textures. few different textures as well from the fibrous fronds to the actual vegetable itself resembling that of an onion.
Originally native to Mediterranean soil, fennel has taken root in many different parts of the world. Although it grows worldwide, fennel thrives to its fullest in the dry, sandy soil found along coastlines and riverbeds.
Preparing this vegetable is quite simple, once you have the proper knowhow. In this recipe-video, Andy Varela, chef and owner of Maitland Mountain Farm in Salem, MA, teaches you how to prepare this vegetable for its many varieties of use. With a little knife work and a creative mind, fennel makes for a surprising treat on in vast assortment of meals.
1. Remove the fronds, or the stalks, and leaves of fennel plant. Set aside for use in salads or for aromatics.
2. Remove the root cluster from the bottom of the bulb and discard.
3. To remove the rest of the roots in the bulb, slice the bulb in half length-wise and make a V-shaped incision around the fibrous root center. Then, simply pull out the triangular slice of the root center.
4. Once the root and stalks are removed, slice the fennel bulb as desired.
Recipe courtesy of Andy Varela, Maitland Mountain Farm, 2013.
Originally from Southern CA, chef and farmer Andy Varela owns and runs Maitland Mountain Farm with his fiancée Holly Maitland and their newborn son Jett. Renowned in his adopted home of Salem,