I once got a beautiful black rabbit. When trying to come up with a name, my mother said if I named it “Licorice”, she would buy me licorice whenever we went to the grocery store. “Licorice” it was! I mean, how could I resist the thought of getting candy every time I went to the store? The thing was, I hated licorice. Not so much anymore – unfortunately, it is a bit late to make good on the offer of free licorice.
Fennel is known for its exotic licorice flavor. As far as vegetables go, I think fennel is one of the most exciting ones around (if you remember this post, I mentioned my love and excitement). I just cannot resist it and am so in love with the beautiful, willowy bulb – really, I feel confident in saying I am enamored with fennel. And the great thing about fennel is that no matter how you prepare it, it is delicious, both raw and cooked.
Fennel is rich in vitamin A, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C. For centuries, it was used for its medicinal properties (think kidney stones, gout, digestion, anemia just to name a few).
This year, I decided to experiment in my garden and try planting it. And goodness, I am so thankful I did (even with fighting off a mole and attracting a swarm of Black swallowtail caterpillars. Who knew that fennel, along with other members of the parsley family, was a host plant for them? Lesson learned). My fennel bed is coming to an end, but not before I am able to enjoy a few last meals. Fennel is usually found combined with oranges in salad. However, I prefer using apples – especially with it being apple season and being able to get them local! The sweetness of the apple pairs really well with the fennel and makes a delicious and refreshing salad.
There is not much to this recipe. It is super easy and quick. Just a bit of chopping and mixing. Now, I will admit, I hate anything going to waste, so I use the WHOLE fennel. Every last part. However, the stems are definitely crunchy and each bulb tends to have a lot of fronds, or leaves. So feel free to just use a portion of the leaves with the bulb. And you might want to add more bulbs to the recipe if you omit the super crunchy stems.
Raw Fennel & Apple Salad:
- 2 fennel bulbs chopped (everything, including the fronds)
- 2 apples chopped (I love using Gala or Fuji, but use your favorite. For this recipe, I just used what was on hand.)
- 1/4c raw red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, organic cold-pressed*
- 2 Tbs untoasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbs ginger, minced
- 1 Tbs honey, raw (or less, to taste)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
*You can use 1/4c olive oil instead of 2 Tbs of each oil. I love the minced ginger! But if you want to make it with an Italian flavor profile, omit the ginger and the sesame oil (replacing with olive oil).
Add the last 6 ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Add the apples and fennel and toss. This is best when allowed to sit for the dressing to marinade the fennel and apples. I would chill it for at least 2 hours in the fridge, but it can be made a day ahead, as it is actually better the next day in my opinion.
Want some other good ideas for how to prepare fennel? Here are a couple of my favorites, as well as what I am planning to make next…
- Caramelized Fennel and Goat Cheese Flatbread from My New Roots. Have not tried, but plan on making this or fennel casserole for dinner.
- Tomato and Fennel Pizza
- Fennel casserole – There are tons of recipes for fennel casserole. I plan on trying it with a simple béchamel sauce.
- Tomato-Fennel Soup with Garlic Croutons and Parmesan Cheese from “Fields of Greens” by Annie Somerville – this was my go-to this summer when tomatoes were at their prime. Maybe not the simplest and quickest to prepare, as I used all fresh ingredients and had to properly prepare the tomatoes, but totally worth the effort. This is my favorite tomato soup!