don't we all sometimes get stuck with always the same vegetables? Just because it is easy, we know exactly how to prepare them, we know that everyone in the family will like it...but let me assure you the fun part in the kitchen ends where you get stuck with the same stuff over and over again and begins where you start experimenting! This does not necessarily include preparing time-consuming, highly sophisticated 5-star-cooking, but just "playing around", being creative, trying something new.
Fennel and I, we have not been in love at first sight. And I must say we still have our difficult days, where I find him too bitter and he is really turning me off and he thinks I am being completely unreasonable...because he is just such a fantastic, healthy vegetable, edible from head to tow and everything in between (bulb, seeds, stalks, leaves)!
And he is right of course! This crunchy aromatic veggie that reminiscently tastes licorice and fennel is very present in the Mediterranean cuisine as well as in the Far East (very famous in India and Syria) and is packed with nutrients. It is also used as breath-freshener and forms part of the Chinese five-spice mixture.
In ancient Greece fennel was referred to as "Marathon", named after the famous city for the abundance of the herb which once grew there. And there's a whole story around fennel and Zeus, but I don't want to bore you, let's get to the facts:
1. Fennel is high in Vitamin C! Yes, guys! It provides an antioxidant effect and is also packed with potassium, manganese, folate, niacin, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper.
2. It is a good source of dietary fibre, which lowers cholesterol levels.
3. And very important: it contains the phytonutrients anhetole, rutin and quercitin, which support the immune system. And here we are dealing with yet another anti-cancerous vegetable.
So, this was very interesting, now what exactly do i do with this funny white-green thing lying on my kitchen counter? Anyone?
The leaves are fantastic as an herb when you prepare fish in the oven.
I love fennel raw in salads (when we are going through a good day that is....), shaved thinly, mixed with some Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh thyme and parsley - very simple, very very yummy. You could add some Grapefruit as well to give it a fruity touch.
And I have found and tried this recipe with fresh green beans and feta cheese, which I find absolutey adorable:
- 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into thin slices
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Fill a saucepan half full with water and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and fennel slices; cook until just beginning to become tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Return the empty pan to the stove and set heat to medium. Pour in the olive oil and let it heat for a minute. Return the green beans and fennel to the pan. Season with basil, salt, and pepper; cook and stir until coated and warm. Transfer to a serving dish and toss with feta cheese.
- Serve! :) If you would like to add carbohydrates, have some crispy Ciabatta with it - delicious.