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Fennel

Also known as finocchio, common fennel, sweet fennel, wild fennel and sweet cumin. Fennel yields a herb and a spice. The stems and leaves are all edible. The spice comes from the dried seeds, the herb comes from the leaves and the stalk and root are the vegetable. Fennel is native to the Mediterranean and is one of our oldest cultivated plants. Roman warriors took fennel to keep in good health while their ladies ate it to prevent obesity. It pairs well with fish, but Italians also like to add it to sauces, meats & sausages. If you are familiar with the taste, it is probably from having it in commercially prepared sausages. Add the fronds to sauces, breads, savory crackers and water for poaching fish. Stuff the leaves into oily fish like mackerel and sprinkle finely chopped stems and leaves on salads and cooked vegetables and can also be added to soups and stuffings.