Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wild Fennel!

Just before I left for a trip back to the Midwest near the beginning of May, I discovered wild fennel growing near my apartment. How could I resist digging this up (once I got back)? Free fennel? Yes please.

Last summer, my friend Rachael and I ate fennel a lot. We sauteed it with orange juice and onions. We created thin slices for salad -- I don't remember what else we did. I was pretty happy to eat it raw (and this despite me not liking the taste of licorice, go figure).
Fennel among Ivy

Mostly, with the case of this fennel, I'm excited for the opportunity to "forage" someone's forgotten fennel. It's growing up in a narrow strip of dirt, mostly overtaken by some sort of ivy, in my alley, and near where the garbage cans (in theory -- I've never actually seen them there) are stored to protect them from deer. Fennel's pretty easy to recognize because of its lacy top, and the distinctive flavor of its greens (and bulb, once you've got it out of the ground).

Some fun facts about this plant that perhaps you already knew:
  • Fennel is a primary ingredient in absinthe
  • Prometheus used fennel stalks to steal fire from the gods (yes, I'm calling this a fact)
  • It may help improve vision
In other words, cook your carrots & fennel together, or toss back a handful of dried fennel seeds as a breath freshener--and eyesight improver!

With this fennel, I opted for chopping it into a salad (or, rather, several salads -- this recipe will provide the ingredient quantities for 1 salad, but I had leftover fennel):

Fennel & Apple Salads with Raisins
1/4 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 medium apple, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon raisins
1/4 cup plain yogurt (more or less, to taste)

Mix all ingredients together and let marinate for 10-15 minutes so flavors will mingle. Eat outside.


  1. I wish I liked fennel! I liked it temporarily, and then we had it so much (at Meadow Lark), and almost always with pork (not my favorite except in bacon or brat form), and somewhere in there I ended up hating it. But what a fun discovery for you! And . . . oh dear, how ironic. I've been thinking lately about looking up foods that will help improve my vision. Now you're telling me my un-favorite fennel might be the ticket . . . sigh.

  2. If you do decide to look up those foods, I look forward to hearing about them, Erica.