How are you doing today friends? Only a few hours till the weekend begins and I’m so ready for it! But really, when am I not?! I’ve got a couple of recipes ready to cook up that you’ll see in next week’s Spotlight on Spring Produce posts, but today I want to talk about fennel!
First of all, what is it?
Fennel starts off as a seed, and grows into the weird looking edible herb that you see in the photo above. In addition to being an item in the produce section of your grocery store, it is also used to cure a variety of health problems. The entire plant is edible – the bulbs and stalks are often braised, roasted, or eaten raw in salads and the fronds (which look a bit like fresh dill) are used as garnishes.
The seeds look like this:
Both the seeds and the plant itself have a licorice-y taste, but if you’re thinking of red Twizzlers and Pull’n'Peel, that’s not really what you’re gonna get. It reminds me more of black licorice which I’ve never been too keen on, but I’ve got a trick that I’ll explain in a second!
Why is fennel so great?
Fennel has a ton of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and decongestant properties. The seeds contain a variety of minerals and and phytonutrients that make them a good cure for bloating, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, hypertension, cramping and PMS, and colic in babies. The seeds can be boiled in water to make a tea that supposedly helps to cure sore throats, flu and cough symptoms. Chewing the light green seeds also helps to get rid of bad breath. (I’m not sure what I think of this… I’m not crazy about the licorice-y taste so I think I might just stick to gum for my breath freshening needs.) This herb is also a diuretic, so it contributes to the digestive process by helping to remove toxins from the body.
If fennel had a nutrition label smacked on the side, what would it look like?
A little something like this:
Fennel is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C. It also provides potassium, folic acid, iron, calcium, magnesium and manganese. These are all minerals our bodies need to function properly. For example, potassium helps to keep your blood pressure in check, and magnesium is needed for metabolic functions and for forming new protein in cells.
But what if I don’t really like licorice?
Like I said, I’m not a big black licorice fan. However, I’ve found a way to eat fennel that I really enjoy. The idea was inspired by a salad I recently had at a restaurant, and I think it’s pretty genius. The only tool you need? A vegetable peeler. Simply peel the side of the fennel bulb and use the shavings in your cooking. The taste of licorice is still there, but it’s much more mild than it would be if you were eating slices of the plant. Need some ideas? Well, you’re in luck because I’ve got a recipe for you!
Fennel isn’t the star of this one, but it’s included in the side salad which I think is a good way for newbies to try it out. However, if you really do like fennel in larger capacities and missed my Recipe of the Week, don’t forget to check out this Fennel, Apple, and Walnut Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing).
Citrus Salmon with Spring Greens Salad
- 2 salmon steaks. about 200g each
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper and a few pinches of sea salt.
For the salad and vinaigrette
- 2 cups mixed baby greens
- ½ cup shaved fennel
- ½ cup thinly sliced cucumber
- 1 tbsp each orange, and lime juice
- a few pinches of sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried mint leaves
- dash of black pepper
At least 2 hours before cooking: Combine cider vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, and garlic in a resealable plastic bag or container. Place the salmon steaks inside and refrigerate for a few hours.
When ready to cook: Preheat oven to 400F. Remove salmon from marinade and place it on a foil-lined baking sheet or dish. Sprinkle with ground black pepper, sea salt, and parsley. Bake for 30 minutes or until flesh is light pink and cooked throughout.
Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon, orange and lime juices, sugar, olive oil, mint leaves and black pepper in a salad bowl. Add the greens, fennel and cucumber and toss to combine.
When the fish is ready, distribute the greens between 2 plates. Use a flipper to transfer the salmon to the plates and serve immediately.
Nutrition per serving: 360 calories, 17g fat (3g saturated, 0g trans), 110mg cholesterol, 101mg sodium, 8g carbs, 1g fiber, 4g sugar, 41g protein.
Alright my dears, I’ve gotta get to work. I hope you have a fab Friday, and an absolutely fantastic weekend!! Before I sign off, my questions for today…
- Do you like fennel? How do you normally eat it?
- What are you looking forward to most this weekend?