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Fennel grows wild in much of the world, but two varieties are cultivated: the bulbous Florence fennel and the common fennel grown for its seed and leaves. It belongs in the same family as carrots, celery, parsley, dill (which it resembles in looks) and anise (which it resembles in flavor). The feathery leaves can be used in replace of dill and the bulb can substitute for celery. In fact, I tried it in potato salad, tuna salad, egg salad and chicken salad and loved it!

Storage Info:

  • Store fennel in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If some of the outer sections go bad, strip them off; it is likely, the inner section is still fine.
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Braised Fennel Soup (from Eat Greens Cookbook)

1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small)
3 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, diced
8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
pinch of dried thyme
2 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
salt and fresh pepper
1 cup half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 350. Trim the fronds from the fennel, chop them, and set aside. Core and halve or quarter the bulbs. Coat the bottom of a large roasting pan with the olive oil.  Put the fennel bulbs, garlic, onion, potato, and carrots in the pan. Add the parsley sprigs and sprinkle with thyme. Dot with the butter and pour the stock over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and roast for about 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. If the vegetables are dry, add a little more stock or water during the last 15 minutes or roasting. Let the vegetables cool in the pan.

Transfer the vegetables to a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth. You will have to do this in batches. Put the puree in a large saucepan or stockpot and cook over medium-low heat. Stir in the half-and-half and let the soup get as hot as possible without boiling. Adjust the seasoning and reheat gently, if necessary. Serve at once. Makes 6 servings.


Fennel, Bean and Pasta Salad (from Asparagus to Zucchini)

1 fennel bulb, leafy tops removed and reserved
1 small onion
olive oil
1 can (28 oz) kidney beans, drained)
2-3 cups cooked pasta
1 tsp lemon pepper

Thinly slice fennel bulbs and onion; sauté in olive oil. Chop reserved fennel tops and add to cooked mixture with remaining ingredients. Serve chilled. Makes 4-6 servings.


Tomato, Fennel, and Italian Sausage Sauce for Pasta or Polenta
(from Asparagus to Zucchini

2 T olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage links (hot or mild)
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 T minced garlic
1 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
1 tsp fennel seed
2 cans (each 28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, pureed, or 7-8 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 T tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
pinch of sugar
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1-2 T minced fennel leaves (optional)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add Italian sausage links and brown on all sides. Drain on paper towel. Heat remaining 1 T olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, garlic, chopped fennel and fennel seed. Cook stirring often, until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, sugar, and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, 20-30 minutes. Slice sausages into rounds and add to sauce. Continue to simmer 30 or more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in minced fennel leaves just before serving, if desired. Toss with hot, cooked pasta (use a short, thick type like penne or corkscrew) or serve over hot polenta, with Parmesan cheese. Makes 8-10 servings.


Fennel and Orange Salad (from Eat Greens Cookbook)

1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and julienned
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 T soy sauce
1 T orange juice
1 T minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 medium orange, peeled
1 T fresh lemon juice

Put the fennel and onion in a large bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice, ginger, and olive oil in a small bowl. Pour over the fennel and onion and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Chill the salad for 1 hour. Slice the peeled orange into thin round “wheels” and slice each wheel into half. Add the orange slices and lemon juice and toss. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary, and serve.

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Three Rivers Community Farm         
Elsah, Illinois         


mailing address:
P.O. Box 122
Elsah, IL 62028 


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