Did you know fennel’s part of the carrot family? Those feathery fronds are a bit of a clue. But it’s not night vision that this multi-functional herb is best known for. Its top health benefits include settling the stomach, helping constipation and relieving wind.
Crammed with calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C, as well as a pretty thorough digestion aid, fennel’s said to be good for heart health, freshening breath and boosting immunity too.
Bulb to tips
Fennel comes in three main types: bitter and sweet, which are used as a herb and have a strong aniseed flavour; and Florence fennel (aka Italian fennel or bulb fennel) which has a milder flavour and is eaten as veg.
Fresh fennel tops are fantastic raw, in salads or sautéed. Anything older is best left for soups and stocks. The bulbs are mild and crunchy, much like celery. No peeling required, just clean and chop, then braise, stew, grill or munch on it raw.
You might even be using fennel without knowing it – ground fennel seeds are one of the ingredients of Chinese five spice. Whether you buy seeds or bulbs, there are loads of ways to enjoy it. Read on, things are about to get tasty…
If bunging everything in a pan is your ideal way to cook midweek, have a crack at this fabulous chicken with fennel traybake. Stretch it to two pans and this fennel and pork pasta is another super satisfying plate of food.
Finish with fennel
Possibly our favourite thing about fennel is that it’s got your back when you’ve overdone it. A fragrant cup of fennel tea will sort out that uncomfortable feeling after a big meal – thank fennel for that!