Take one taste of fennel, and you understand why chefs and home cooks are hooked on this Mediterranean veggie staple, now widely available in supermarket produce sections and farmers' markets in the United States. Crunchy and sweet when raw, tender and mildly anise-flavored when cooked, fennel adds subtle flavor and texture to soups, sauces, salads, and even quiche.
Beyond the Bulb
The bulbous bottom of fresh fennel is not the only edible part of the plant.
FRONDS Snip off the delicate tops, and sprinkle over dishes the way you would parsley, basil, or mint.
STALKS Slice or dice, and use in place of celery.
DRIED SEEDS The common fennel found in the supermarket spice section can be used like cumin or caraway to flavor soups, stews, breads, and other baked goods. Or brew some fennel tea, which is reputed to aid digestion, by steeping 1 teaspoon dried seeds 5 minutes in 1 cup boiling water.