To find fennel bulbs in the grocery store, look first in the fresh produce area. It should be sitting near the lettuce and other leafy vegetables. Fennel bulb is similar to lettuce, but sweeter, with a slight licorice flavor. Fennel has a multitude of uses, and it’s incredibly healthy for you, so there’s no downside in at least giving it a try.
Fennel bulb is a trending vegetable, most notably in the areas of Europe, like Italy and France. The entire plant of the fennel is edible, which makes for a very versatile plant indeed. It has outstanding recipe potential too.
It’s most commonly grown in California when purchased in the US. This type of fennel bulb is popularly known as “fresh anise.” Essentially, it looks a lot like feathery celery. There are also a few great substitutes to try out, in case you’d like to try something different.
Fennel is a highly nutrient-rich plant. Just to start with, it has 16% of our suggested Vitamin C intake. Plus, it has an abundance of iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. It also has lots of fiber, which aids in digestion and absorption properties. Eating just a cup of fennel per day can help you meet your daily value!
Benefits Heart Health
The noted calcium, potassium, and fiber all help maintain a healthy heart. In fact, studies show that if enough of it is consumed, it can slow heart failure to a halt, though this isn’t yet totally confirmed. Potassium, specifically, helps to maintain a proper heart rhythm and reduces blood pressure.
Fennel Fights Cancer
Anethole, a significant compound in fennel, helps to reduce the chances of cancer. Anethole has significant cancer-fighting properties, mainly due to its ability to suppress cancer cell growth in the body. This is excellent news; although it’s not a cure, it’s a really good starting point.
Celery is one of the closest sisters to the fennel bulb. The similarities and texture are nearly indistinguishable, except for the licorice flavor that fennel has. Celery can be used in just as many dishes as fennel bulb can, making celery an excellent substitute for anyone who wants to try something different.
Leeks have the sweet flavor that fennel has but without the licorice taste. They’re typically similar in texture, depending on how they’re cooked, of course. However, they’re near-identical to fennel when raw. They go great with salads or cooked and paired with stew, stir fry, and toppings, to name a few.
Parsley is one of the most popular vegetables in the world, and for a good reason. It’s vast ability to match with just about any dish is extraordinary. Plus, it’s very similar to fennel—however, parsley is a little more earthy tasting than fennel bulbs are, which certainly isn’t a bad thing!
Celery & Fennel Salad
Fennel is just as diverse as celery is, so why not combine the two? Fennel can be used as the main leafy ingredient, while celery can be the secondary add-on. The two generally mix together well, especially with butter beans. They are great when paired with a little olive oil, too, bringing it all together for a great finish.
Fennel is said to be incredible when paired with fish, either bass or tuna. You can simply shred the fennel and add it as a topping first, or alternatively mix the fennel into the fish and make a fish spread. Some people find that baking it after integrating and providing a light brown finish makes for the best result, so give it a try!
Fennel Stir Fry
To make a fennel stir fry, add diced chicken, celery, chiles, tomatoes, cucumber, and fennel. Add olive oil to quickly bring everything together and caramelize the ingredients. By doing this, the fennel will become a dark, caramelized, sweet leaf that tastes great and will impress just about anyone!
Fennel is undoubtedly one of the tastiest vegetables out there. It’s prevalent in higher-end dishes, but yet it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s incredibly versatile, almost just as much as lettuce—if not more. To say it’s recipe-worthy is a complete understatement, and we hope to raise awareness of this somewhat hidden gem among veggies.
The health benefits are enough just by themselves to make this vegetable worth eating. But even if they weren’t, then the taste unquestionably is. The substitutes are just as good if prepared correctly, although they will not have the licorice taste that fennel bulbs have. Now, cook up a recipe and enjoy!