As you already heard from Cole, in Week 3 we’re featuring a new item in our CSA box–fennel. And I want to be totally honest: this one is new to me as well. Yes, it’s true–I’ve never tried this before. But I do have big plans for it. We’re all encouraged to add more fish to our diet, so early in the week I’m planning to serve tilapia with the feathery fennel leaves as a seasoning. If you’re lucky enough to have pan fish on hand, it would be delicious on that as well. It’s my understanding that these leaves should be used within a couple of days, to avoid wilting. The bulb part of the fennel will last a little longer, in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. I’m going to try a few slices raw, on a veggie platter. The flavor is best appreciated when it’s thoroughly chilled. It has a slight licorice taste. But if you don’t care for that, not to worry. When cooked, this flavor fades and you’ll taste a little bit of sweetness. It’s a great substitute for celery because it softens slowly while holding its shape, but isn’t fibrous or stringy. Which brings me to the final use of my fennel this week: I’ll be serving the Green Bean and Roasted Fennel Salad, using the green beans included in this week’s share. (See Recipe Section)
Let’s go over some simple steps for the basic preparation of fennel.
1. Wash the fennel bulb, removing any damaged areas or woody parts of the stalk.
2. Cut the stalk off at the point where it meets the swollen bulb.
3. Remove the feathery green fronds, mince them, and use as you would any herb, for flavor and as a garnish.
To use the bulb:
1. Cut a slice off the root end, as you would an onion.
2. Remove the tough outer layers (one or two, depending on your bulb)
3. If you are planning on stir-frying, sauteing, or roasting your fennel bulb, cut a thicker slice from the root end and then cut the bulb in half.
4. Using a small paring knife, cut out the triangular piece of the core that is attached to the bottom of each half. Now the cored fennel halves can be sliced or diced as needed for your recipes.
You’ll notice radishes are in your share for the first time this year. I wanted to do something more with them, besides including them on a fresh veggie tray. So I came up with the Cottage Radish Salad. (See Recipe Section) Do you still have cucumbers left from last week? I do, so I used them up in this salad. If you don’t have the cherry tomatoes on hand, I found that chopping a regular tomato into chunks works just as well. I have plenty of basil from the basil we planted during Week 1, and lettuce greens as well, also from Week 1. So the parsley plant from this week’s share was all I needed for this salad.
I’d love to hear from any of you how you liked the fennel and how you used it. Feel free to share any recipes you enjoyed.
Here’s to another week of healthy eating!