Food & Drink

Falling for fennel

One of the least familiar and most intriguing vegetables of fall is fennel (sometimes labeled sweet anise), a Mediterranean favorite. It looks like a bulbous head of celery and has a licoricelike taste.

A member of the same family as carrots, celery, caraway and cumin, fennel is rich in vitamin A and has fewer than 30 calories per serving. Today's recipe takes advantage of its crisp texture and distinctive flavor in a salad, but it's also good braised, grilled or sautéed.

There's no waste with fennel. Its feathery fronds can be used as a seasoning herb or garnish. Its celerylike stems make a flavor-imparting "rack" for roast chicken or pork and a nice addition to soup. Fennel seeds are used in sausage, and fennel pollen is a gourmet flavoring agent.

Choose firm, unblemished, white bulbs with rigid, crisp stalks and bright green fronds.

Refrigerate in a loosely closed plastic bag. It should stay fresh for about five days.

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