Oh fennel….

Fennel bulbs… so, so divisive in our house.

My husband glowers at it whenever fennel bulbs appear in our weekly veg box and he claims, in a tone not dissimilar to our 2 and a half year old, that he doesn’t like fennel. Yet when I pop it into a variety of dishes, he regularly comments on how rich the flavour is of whatever we’re eating. I hide it amongst celery when cooking and he rarely notices. A small victory for me – especially as it’s so ridiculously good for you.

Sure, raw fennel in salads is an acquired taste but (due to its recent prevalence in aforementioned weekly veg box) I’ve been adding it to all sorts recently to pretty good effect.

I’ve added it to homemade pasta sauce along with red onion and it brings a lovely mellow sweetness to the tomatoes, garlic and herbs, when cooked very slowly. I’ve put it in spag bol, again with similar results, I’ve roasted it with chicken and last week it made an appearance in another beef dish.

Now maybe I’m a bit evangelical about fennel. It is my after-dinner tea of choice and it’s long been renowned for its diuretic and digestional goodness, but it’s hard not to want to sneak into more of my diet when it’s so good for me.

It’s crammed full of phytonutrients which give it some great anti-oxidant powers – and we all love that. It’s a a great source of vitamin C (maybe that’s why you see it so regularly coupled with orange in salads!), dietary fibre, potassium and folate, amongst others. One of the things I really like is that research has also shown it’s help in reducing inflammation.  Kind of a wonder-bulb, right?

So, have a nose around for some recipes – it’s very popular in French, Italian and other Mediteranean cuisine and just give it a go. Chopping a bit into what you’re making can only do you good. Eventhough its flavour can be strong when raw, it really mellows when sauteed for a while over a low heat and is a great pal to our good friend, the onion.

Now I’m off to hide it from Mr C in another recipe. I’ll convert him yet *evil chuckle*