This week we have more of the wonderful vegetable Florence Fennel from Red Root Herb and Veg Farm in Banks Alabama. Fennel is widely cultivated for its edible, strongly-flavored bulb, leaves and seeds. The flavor is similar to that of anise, though not as strong, more aromatic and sweeter. It is of cultivated origin and its flavor comes from anethole, an aromatic compound also found in anise and star anise. Florence fennel plants are smaller than the wild type and have inflated leaf bases which are eaten as a vegetable, both raw and cooked. There are several cultivars of Florence fennel, which is also known by several other names, notably the Italian name finocchio.
Fennel is very low in Cholesterol and is a good source of Niacin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and Manganese
Fennel is most prominently featured in Italian cuisine, where bulbs and fronds appears both raw and cooked in side dishes, salads, pastas, and risottos. The seed is a common ingredient in Italian sausages and meatballs and northern European rye breads.
Fennel is generally considered indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean and spread eastward to India. It has followed civilazation, especially where Romans have colonized. Many cultures in India and the Middle East incorporate fennel seed into their culinary traditions. It is an essential ingredient in the Bengali/Oriya spice mixture panch phoron and in Chinese five spice powder. Many egg, fish and other dishes employ fresh or dried fennel leaves. Florence fennel is a key ingredient in some Italian and German salads, often tossed with chicory and avocado, or it can be braised and served as a warm side dish. It may be blanched or marinated, or cooked in risotto.