Quinoa and fennel salad features the anise-flavored vegetable, and is made festive with toasted walnuts and dried cranberries.
Fennel is a fall and winter vegetable that’s often overlooked — given its distinctive appearance and anise flavor, that’s kind of surprising. Fennel is a festive green amalgam of bulb, stalks, and feathery leaves, and while it may not be as versatile as other vegetable, it doesn’t deserve to be neglected, either!
Take this salad, for instance. It’s easy to make, and can be enjoyed with everyday cool-weather meals or served as holiday fare. The quinoa, cranberries, and walnuts team up beautifully with the fennel in a salad packed with flavor and texture. It’s citrusy notes pull everything together.
General uses: Thinly sliced raw fennel bulb is a nice addition to salads and slaws. To enjoy it cooked, add to soups, stews, sautés and stir-fries.
Fennel’s stalks bring to mind celery, and the leaves are reminiscent of dill. But the most useful part is the bulb. The easiest way to use it to cut away the tough stem and stalks, then quarter and thinly slice it. It’s easy to cut, with a texture somewhat like celery.
Fennel has a decidedly anise (licorice) flavor, which is what makes it a love-it-or-don’t kind of vegetable.
Most popular in the cuisines of Italy and France, fennel is a good-for-you ingredient. A cup’s worth of sliced or chopped raw fennel has only 27 calories, but provides an impressive amount of Vitamin C, folate, and potassium as well as small amounts of many other vitamins and minerals. It’s a great source of fiber, too.
The stalks can be quite tough and many recipes call for them to be discarded, which is wasteful. Instead, chop them into chunks and add to soups and stews, allowing them to add their unique flavor to your dish as it cooks.
The feathery leaves can be used, too. Simply use them as you’d use fresh herbs — they’ll remind you of dill, though the flavor is different.
Look for fennel that’s firm and show no signs of softening, with leaves that are green and springy with no sign of flowering. Keep fennel in the refrigerator, preferably wrapped and in the crisper drawer. Use within a few days of buying for freshest flavor and crisp texture.
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