June 17: Fennel


I became aware of fennel as a child, not as a vegetable but as foliage for bouquets. My parents are amazing gardeners and grew beautiful bronze, feathery fennel with its rusty red tones in the borders where I was sent to cut flowers for the house. It goes fantastically well with dahlias, sunflowers or any arrangement of deep reds, purples or oranges. The other varieties of fennel include wild fennel with its tall, acid green, feathery branches which much to my delight grow wild all over the Mediterranean and fill the air with a faint liquorice aroma. Herb fennel is much like the wild variety – both the seeds and fronds are used in many dishes, going particularly well with fish. Finally, there is the Florence fennel bulb which is my favourite culinary variety as raw it adds a good crunch to salads, is delicious as crudités or braised in stock and baked with a lovely golden crust of parmesan.

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