We’ve got a few more weeks to enjoy winter veggies before spring starts kicking in. It’s the perfect time to dig into fennel, a vegetable that is light, fresh, and delicious both cooked and raw.

It’s seriously good for your health as well: fennel is known for its purifying action on the liver and blood, with lots of anti-oxidants, potassium, vitamins A, B and C.

Native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean, fennel is quite simple to grow and has proved incredibly versatile in the kitchen.

Bake it

As simple as it gets. Warm your oven at 350°F, slice the fennel in chunks the size of potato wedges, spread them on the tray and cover with breadcrumbs and a generous sprinkle of EVOO. If you want to be naughty you can add grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Cook until the breadcrumbs turn brown and see if you can stop eating it.

Cream it

Simply cook it in boiling water until you can easily pierce it with a fork. You can combine it with so many other vegetables if you want: carrot, cauliflower… it will be delicious even on its own. Using a blender, puree into a velvety cream. Add some EVOO, a pinch of sea salt, et voilà.

Cover it in home-made béchamel

This is a common “nonna” trick in Italy, to get kids to eat more veggies. Prepare your fennel just like you would for the breadcrumbs recipe in the oven above, just switch breadcrumbs for béchamel sauce! We can guarantee your guests, regardless the age, will come back for more.

Bread it and fry it

Treat your fennel as if you were dealing with a chicken breast. Slice the fennel as best and as thin as you can – you’ll have irregular slices but no worries, it will work – and proceed as if you were frying the Italian way: cover the fennel in flour, then dip in beaten eggs seasoned with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and sea salt, and finally in breadcrumbs, then deep fry them in peanut oil. Delicious both right out of the pan and a few hours later.

Go raw

It’s a vegetable that is amazing raw – as a snack dipped in hummus or in a salad. We love it the Sicilian way, chopped into a salad with oranges, olives, spring onion and almonds. See our previous recipe video for more details.