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Get to know your veggies: fennel

Fennel is often overlooked, and it’s a real shame.

Full of flavour and bursting with health benefits, this versatile veggie makes a great addition to your diet.

Not sure what to do with it? Don’t worry - we have all the info you need right here.

What is fennel?

Fennel is a pretty distinctive vegetable - it’s white and green and looks like a bulb.

With its remarkable stems and fronds (the feathery green top), every bit of the vegetable can be used. The fronds make a great garnish, the core and base can be added to homemade veggie stock, and the main bulb can be used in anything from salads to stews.

It may be low in calories but this veggie packs a real punch with its aniseed taste - it brings some lovely fresh flavour to your dishes.

Available all year round, fennel is best between the start of June and the end of September. Try to pick smaller, younger ones and you’ll enjoy a much more tender vegetable. Go for fennel that’s white, feels heavy, and has fronds that are a lovely bright green.

What are fennel’s health benefits?

Fennel is a great source of fiber, and it’s full of nutrients like potassium which are good for heart health.

Not only that, but its antioxidant's may help to reduce inflammation, while the beta-carotene and vitamin C can help with collagen production and tissue repair for healthy skin.

How do you store fennel?

To keep fennel at its best for longer, we recommend wrapping the whole vegetable in damp kitchen roll before putting it in the fridge.

Stored like this, your fresh fennel should last up to 3 days.

How do you prepare fennel?

When you’re ready to use your fennel, begin by washing the whole vegetable and patting it dry with a paper towel.

Next, trim the fonds - you can keep these and use them to garnish your salads.

Then, trim the base and the shoots at the top, and peel off the tough outer layer of the vegetable. You can keep all these bits to use in homemade vegetable stock.

Finally, remove the core by either cutting it out of the bottom, or chopping the vegetable and removing the core from each section you have cut. If you choose the latter method, just be careful that your fennel sections don’t fall apart.

How you use your fennel will depend on how you cut it - chop it for roasting, slice it for salads or dice it for soups and stews.

What can you do with fennel?

Fennel is delicious eaten raw in a salad. Check out this fennel and pomegranate salad recipe for some inspiration.

One quick tip. Fennel will discolor quickly once it has been cut, so make sure you add it to the salad right at the last minute. Or, try adding a little lemon juice to it to prevent any browning.

It’s really easy to boil and steam fennel too. It’ll take around 20 minutes to cook the full bulb, or 12 minutes if you cut the veggie into wedges. Just add parmesan and breadcrumbs to transform your boiled fennel into a delicious side dish - get the full recipe here.

You can even roast fennel for a lovely, hearty dish. Give this fennel, leek and squash gratin a go.

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