Most people know fennel in the form of the tiny and sometimes bitter seeds found in sausage pizzas. Few think about the whole plant that comes from these seeds or that it can also be used in cooking! Fresh fennel gives a sweet flavor similar to licorice and can add a delicious touch to many types of food. Learning how to cut a large fennel and use it in multiple dishes will help you get the most out of that flavor.
Method 1 of 4: Preparing Fennel
Step 1. Cut off the bulb stalks
Wash the entire plant with cold water before cutting it. When cutting the stalks, hold the knife close to the bulb. It is not necessary to dispose of the stalks after respawning them, as they can still be used in many recipes.
Step 2. Cut the roots from the bulbs
Roots are inedible and must be discarded. Cut in a straight line so that the bulb can be propped up when cutting right in the middle.
Step 3. Cut the bulb in half
Guide the knife through the entire bulb. Then slice the two pieces exactly as you did with the bulb intact. Position the knife well naming the two halves and cut.
Step 4. Discard the withered parts of the bulb
You can differentiate them from fresh parts by texture and color. The outside is thicker and darker than the rest of the bulb.
Step 5. Cut the bulb into fine pieces
Place the fennel pieces on the flat sides. Place the knife on top of the piece you are cutting and bring it down to where the root would be. Cut to desired thickness.
If you want it to be extremely thin, use a mandolin for slicing. To do this, place the piece of fennel on top of the mandoline grid and move it back and forth as if you were grating cheese
Step 6. Store what you are not going to use immediately in a covered container
Put all the fennel slices in a bowl and fill it with enough water to cover the entire plant. Cover the top of the bowl with wrapping paper or use a lid and refrigerate. You can leave it like this for a week.
Method 2 of 4: Cooking with Fennel Bulbs
Step 1. Fill a dough with fennel
Chop the bulbs into thin slices to facilitate mixing with the filling. Boil on the stove (with blackcurrant) for 15 minutes, then refrigerate until completely chilled. Now, just put the filling into the dough with a spoon and fold as usual before frying.
Step 2. Bake in the oven
Cook the fennel this way after cutting it into medium slices. Preheat oven to 180 ºC. Then season the plant with a generous amount of pepper, salt and olive oil. Place the fennel on a baking sheet and bake, roasting for about 40 minutes.
Step 3. Make an fennel chutney
Take two bulbs (preferably small) and fry them on the stove with salt, onion, chili flakes and lemon zest for extra flavor. When the ingredients have a very smooth texture, add 350 ml of water to the pan and boil for half an hour covered. Then for another 15 minutes without a lid until the chutney is reduced or thickened.
Step 4. Flavor your pasta with fennel
Cut the plant very thin for this dish. Sprinkle some salt on it before browning it in a skillet. Also add other sauce ingredients (such as tomatoes) and cook.
Step 5. Use chopped fennel in a soup
Cook the plant with other base vegetables (such as celery and leeks) to make the broth and soup. Simmer the broth for 30 to 45 minutes and boil the soup for another 20 minutes.
Step 6. Mix with a coleslaw
Cut the bulbs very finely with other vegetables of your choice, such as cabbage or carrots. Try using a sweet vinaigrette to enhance the flavor of the fennel.
Step 7. Use chopped fennel as a pizza ingredient
After chopping the plant, sauté it with a little oil and add to a homemade pizza with the rest of the ingredients after the sauce, but before the cheese. Then bake as usual and enjoy!
Method 3 of 4: Using Fennel Stalks
Step 1. Brown the stalks as a vegetable base
Fennel can be an excellent base for various dishes, such as spaghetti, soups, braised dishes and broths. Mix the stalks with onion, celery and herbs to bring out the flavor of the food.
Step 2. Use raw stalks as an ingredient in a salad
Raw stalks are as edible as the rest of the fennel. Mix them with spinach, chopped onion and the dressing of your choice to make an excellent salad with a little fennel flavor. Use as many stalks as one bulb.
Step 3. Make a vegetable broth
Add the stalks to boiling water (along with other vegetables such as onions, carrots and celery) to create a delicious vegetable stock. This is a great way to use the remaining stalks when you don't know what to do with them.
Step 4. Add to fish before roasting
When you place fresh, seasoned fish on a baking sheet, place the stalks on top or to the side of the meat. The fish will absorb the flavor of the fennel as it roasts.
Step 5. Place the fennel stalks in a pesto mixture
You can make a pesto easily with pine nuts, basil, olive oil and a food processor, but fennel can add a little more flavor. Add the ingredient to the mixture before processing the pesto. Use the final product as a marinade or spaghetti sauce. The amount of stalks from a single bulb is enough to flavor the pesto.
Method 4 of 4: Using Fennel Foliage
Step 1. Make the foliage into juice or smoothie
You will not be able to make a good-sized drink using only the fennel leaves, as they are not big enough. Instead, combine the plant with other juice ingredients such as spinach, carrots or apples to make it a little sweeter.
Step 2. Chop the foliage and use it as a seasoning
Fennel leaves can be excellent herbs, especially in place of common herbs like fresh parsley. Sprinkle the chopped fennel leaves in a spaghetti, soup or sauce and mix until well combined.
Step 3. Add the chopped leaves as a garnish
Instead of mixing the fresh leaves with a spaghetti sauce, sprinkle over the top or sides of the dish to garnish it. Spread a large amount of the foliage on a plate and place a roasted fish or chicken on top.