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Fennel: The Best Thing To Buy, Best Way to Eat It—NOW!

Sarah McColl
Editor in Chief
February 21, 2014

We keep our eyes peeled for the freshest, most in-season vegetables and the best deals on store shelves. And we do it for you, in the name of making everyday eating unicorn-sighting-exciting. (At least, we try.) Here’s what to buy, and the very best ways to eat it—now! 

It’s a difficult, bulbous thing, fennel, and a little unloved (partly due to its polarizing licorice flavor). But listen! Shaved on a mandoline, its cool, herbaceous crunch can be the centerpiece of a leafless winter salad studded with fat flakes of Parmesan and a squeeze of lemon. And once cooked—caramelized to a deep golden brown in a hot oven—fennel’s edge smooths right out. It becomes vegetable candy.

And we haven’t even talked about those soft, feathery fronds! Don’t toss them. Scatter them in salads, or use as a substitute for a fresh herb garnish on fish. If you’re feeling more ambitious, make fennel frond pesto. Feel avoidant? Stuff them in your freezer stock bag to deal with another day. 

On to the recipes!

Roasted Fennel: We start with the most basic recipe, because it is simple and because it is good.

Mango Salad with Fennel Frond Pesto: February? What February?

Fontina, Fennel, and Onion Pizza: Caramelized onions and fennel make rich, mellow bedfellows, taking store-bought pizza crust to a whole new level.

Fennel-Apple Spritzer: The wild card (though we’d add a healthy glug of gin).

Flounder Poached in Tomato-Fennel Sauce: Start with store-bought tomato sauce, doctor it with both fresh and dried fennel seeds, and wind up with a dinner-worthy dish.

Caramelized Fennel, Leek, and Orange Salad: It’s called a salad, but it looks like something far more sultry.

Linguine with Sardines, Tomatoes, and Fennel: This brilliant, Sicilian-style pantry supper get a fresh burst from both fennel bulb and fronds.

Roast Chicken with Fennel: This is our kind of dinner—homey, simple, and producing but one pan to wash.