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Fennel

Anyone else like fennel? It’s in season now and I love it. It’s crisp and crunchy with a delicate aniseed flavor. I  usually eat it raw, in salads or to have with dips, but I don’t usually cook it.

Today I experimented with it in a “bottom of the fridge” dish — you know, the kind of dish you make out of whatever’s left in the fridge, before you go out and do a big shop.

Normally I discard the tough outer layers of the fennel bulb and the thick stems, but I hate wasting food, so I thought, let’s see how it works if I cook them. 

I sautéed a few chicken pieces and the chopped up outer bits of fennel, including the stems, in oil, added garlic, a chopped carrot and half a red pepper (because this is a “bottom of the fridge” dish, and that’s what I had.)  I added chicken stock and after about 10 minutes I tossed in some rice, to thicken it and let it absorb the liquid.

I have to say it worked a treat. It’s a simple and fairly plain dish, but the delicate flavor of the fennel comes through beautifully and compliments the chicken. You could add parmesan cheese and make it like a risotto, too. Or add some spices — I didn’t use any herbs or spices this time because I wanted to see how it tasted plain. 

Yummy. Chicken and fennel go together beautifully. The pic above is what’s left — that’s going in the fridge to be my lunch tomorrow.

I’m going to make fennel soup next, probably in combination with chicken (or chicken stock) and some other veggies. Because it’s soup weather here — cold and grey and damp.  And because I’m working hard on my latest novel, and when I’m stuck, chopping veggies and stirring soup often helps.

Are you a fennel lover or not? And do you make soup? What’s your favorite?