While fennel may look like it was dropped into the grocery aisle by a spaceship, it’s incredibly versatile once you know how to use all of its parts, from its frilly fronds to the bulbous roots.
With its high water content, fresh fennel is hydrating and full of vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber. It’s also a digestion savior (which is why fennel seeds are traditionally served in Indian restaurants after meals).
Here’s how we’re using this in-season vegetable every which way:
Fresh: Three minutes is the only thing between you and a salad that’s just the thing when you’re craving something both savory and crunchy (think potato chips). Slice a fennel bulb crosswise into thin rings (no peeling needed). Toss the slices with olive oil, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and plenty of salt and pepper. In addition to using the bulb, you can use its fronds as an attractive and flavorful garnish.
Dried: Reach for caffeine-free fennel tea the next time stomach issues like gas or bloating get you down. It soothes and supports digestion and can ease uncomfortable feelings of fullness or heartburn if you accidentally overdid it at dinner. Stock a special blend, or let one tablespoon of seeds steep in a mug of boiling water for 10 minutes, then strain and serve. Added bonus: Munching on the seeds outright has a breath-freshening effect, which is why it’s popping up in more products like gum.
Frozen: Wash, chop and freeze a fennel bulb to add to morning smoothies. While it may seem like an odd choice for breakfast, it adds the icy creaminess of a banana and lends the sweetness that fruit would, without an overwhelming amount of sugar. Plus, it packs more green into your smoothie.