I'm thrilled to to have added a new veggie to my lunchbox. It's the beautiful, pale green fennel. She hails from the Umbellifereae family and is related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander.
What's so great about fennel?
Well, first it's got this wonderfully light scent. Think of the anise spice, but not as strong.
I once visited a family for Shabbath, and they served a fennel salad. Raw fennel cut up in pieces sitting in a bowl of lemon juice. No salt added. Nothing. And it was... Heavenly!! Crunchy, refreshing, and slightly sweet. What a joy to the palatte! I know had seconds...probably thirds.
G-d was definitely in a playful mood when He created the fennel.
Aside from being a delight to eat, fennel has great medicinal and nutritional properties.
Apparently, way back fennel was used to cure stomach ailments and freshen breath. Even to fight against weight gain..And an infusion of fennel seeds can help with menstrual pains.
It has phytonutrients-including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides-that give it strong antioxidant activity. Also, it has Vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant. It has fiber, folate, and potassium which assist in colon health.
Next time, you're in the supermarket, I dare you to pick up a bulb of fennel and try it out. Pick one that's free of bruises, and it should be white, pale green in color. And you should smell that sweet anise/liquorice-ish scent. It should last around 4 days. I like the inner part of the bulb b/c it's not fibrous.
You can eat it raw or cooked.
According to Howard Yoon on NPR's Kitchen Window, "fennel's strength may be its power to blend and enhance other flavors. Tuna tastes more tuna-like when cooked with fennel. A simple salad of oranges, red onion and lemon vinaigrette has more zing with the addition of crunchy, raw fennel."
Yeah, I'm likin' the fennel. It's just a light, happy, and easygoing veggie!