By Sari Huhtala
There’s more to fennel than meets the eye. Though not very popular in North America, this awkward-looking veggie, which you will know by its distinct licorice-like scent, and the fact that most cashiers at the checkout will ask you what on earth it is, is likely one of the most underappreciated veggies around. For more than just lovers of black licorice heart-healthy fennel is full of potassium, fibre, selenium, choline, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, protein and other nutrients. Not a fan of licorice? That’s okay, too. When cooked, the anise flavour enhances meals, without a hint of black licorice left behind. Every part of the plant, including the seed is edible. No fancy chef’s knife-work needed. Just chop it any old way. Add raw to green salads, or just mix orange slices with fennel and drizzle olive oil and vinegar for a fresh vitamin C salad. Add this veggie chopped (I use the stem and whispy stalk ends and all) into soups for nutrition and flavour. It’s especially tasty in tomato-based soups. Make carmelized roasted fennel in the oven or use in a stir fry.