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Ingredient of the week: Fennel

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15 SEPTEMBER 2008

Fennel is one of those vegetables that divides us. Some love its crisp, crunchy texture and fresh aniseed taste, others find it overpowering. One can learn to love it, but it takes some doing. It's wonderful raw, thrown into salads with blue cheese, sultanas and a citrus vinaigrette. Serve it tossed with cabbage, red onion, walnuts and mayonnaise to make coleslaw with a twist. Cooked, it shines - roasted with parmesan it partners wonderfully with fish. Use the aromatic seeds with lemon zest, finely chopped garlic, sea salt flakes and pepper as a rub for slow-roasted meltingly tender belly of pork. To soften that aniseed hit slightly, finely slice the fennel on a mandolin if you have one. Squeeze half a lemon over it and leave it in the fridge for half an hour until ready to use.