Known since ancient times by the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans, wild fennel was considered a medicinal plant, as an antidote to some stings and bites. Fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family and is therefore closely related to carrots, dill and coriander. Today, fennel essential oil is known for its virtues in the digestive system and for its tonic and diuretic action. Some women have successfully used it to increase breast milk production. Fennel is composed of an edible white or pale green bulb. One may be surprised by its aniseed flavor except in Southern Europe and especially in Italy, the largest producer and consumer country. In recent years, the fennel is now trying to conquer the rest of Europe !
In France, fennel season runs from May to October. Its aniseed taste may surprise some and especially children but it's time to tame it. Caution! People allergic to birch pollen should not eat fennel, because of cross allergies.
Low in calories (25 kcal/100g), fennel is rich in fiber and nutrients. It contains potassium (430 mg/100g), calcium (49mg/100g), phosphorus (51mg/100g), magnesium (40mg/100g), iron (2.7mg/100g ), Vitamin C (52mg/100g), Vitamin E (6 mg/100g), Vitamin B9 (1mg/100g) and other B Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6). Much of these nutrients have antioxidant properties. This is why, from the early season, it is interesting to enrich your diet with some fresh and crunchy fennel leaves, while enjoying its health benefits.
Eaten generally cooked, it is consumed cold in salads or hot as an accompaniment to meat and fish. It can be used in soups, cold soups (gazpacho type), au gratin dishes, with stir-fried vegetables, in a homemade tomato sauce to accompany pasta or couscous, in a curry sauce, a ratatouille, a caponata or in association with legumes (lentils, chickpeas, etc..) and in most preparations of vegetables. Some fans will consume it raw in salads, shredded and combined with other grated vegetables (carrots, raw beet) or fish (herring, smoked or marinated salmon). Its unique taste makes it easy to marry sweet and savory flavors.
Wash the fennel. Cut it into pieces by removing the hard parts. Grate the fennel in hand or food processor (use the same grid as white cabbage). Then grate a green apple (Granny Smith type). Mix and season with lemon juice, salt, pepper, olive oil, coriander. Personalize this salad as you wish (tuna, cranberries, canned corn, sesame seeds, etc.).
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