I hate the smell of licorice but I’m a huge fan of fennel–go figure. This fall vegetable is incredibly versatile–you can eat it raw, cooked and its seeds–and you’ve probably already used it a couple times here and there.  Try to incorporate it into more dishes this season while it’s fresh!

Eat What:

-Fennel, along with similar-tasting anise, is one of the main ingredients of absinthe

-‘Florence’ fennel is the bulbous variety most commonly found in grocery stores

-The Greek word for fennel is “marathon,” as in “place of fennel” and where the Battle of Marathon took place (no wonder I like fennel so much!)

-Features an anise-like flavor and is common (both fresh and its seeds) in Mediterranean and Indian dishes

Eat When:

-Fennel is in season here in WNY in October and November

-Choose fennel with a tight, compact bulb without signs of bruising and that is fragrant (a sign it’s fresh)

-Store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator up to four days

Eat Right:

-Fennel is an excellent source of Vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium

-Fennel seeds are known to have antioxidant, digestive and anti-flatulent properties

Eat More:

-Slice fennel bulb as you would an onion, roast and serve with salmon

-Thinly slice fresh fennel and combine with orange or grapefruit segments and avocado for an early-Autumn salad, top with a tangy vinaigrette

-Dice fennel and add to meatball, meatloaf or homemade sausage recipes

“Andrew’s” Herb Risotto

(taken from Allrecipes.com; I found this recipe years ago when I was looking for something to serve with Ina’s Chicken with 40 Garlic Cloves as a special dinner for my hubby.  Ever since, whenever I think of fennel, this is the recipe that comes to mind.  The fact that it’s called “Andrew’s” is completely coincidental; unfortunately MY Andrew isn’t a huge fan of risotto, but did eat this one.  Guess I’ll have to make it again while it’s in season…)

3 tbsp each canola oil and butter

1 C fennel, trimmed and diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp each fresh mint & parsley, chopped & divided in half

2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped & divided in half

2 tsp grated lemon zest, divided in half

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1.5 C uncooked Arborio rice

1/2 C dry white wine

3.5 C chicken stock

1.5 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil and butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add fennel, bell pepper, onion, garlic and half of herbs and lemon zest. Saute, stirring, until vegetables are slightly softened.
  2. Stir in coriander and rice and saute, stirring, until rice grains are well coated. Pour in wine and stock and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is almost absorbed and rice is tender but firm, stirring often.
  3. Remove pan from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in remaining mint, parsley, rosemary and lemon zest, then add lemon juice and cheese. Cover saucepan and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information: per 8 servings

289 cal, 11g fat, 15mg chol., 403mg sodium, 39g carb., 2g fiber, 5g protein


Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician.  She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related.  She is currently living with her husband, Andrew, an East Aurora native, and their giant dog in a rental house in Orchard Park while they continue to house-hunt in East Aurora.  You can find her at www.thefrozenpineapple.com.