Eating well and living well go hand-in-hand—there’s a reason you often feel like crap after eating crappy, bad-for-you foods and you feel energized and full of life when you eat nutritious dishes. We’re not suggesting you ditch the pizza completely (in fact, we’ve got a fennel pizza recipe that is to die for) but the trick is to find ways to make dishes you love so they also pack a nutritious punch. And we’re about to expand your healthy cooking repertoire with a new tasty ingredient that also happens to be phenomenal for your well being: our good friend, fennel. Be honest, when is the last time you busted out a fennel recipe?
Fennel is often found in Mediterranean cuisines, mostly because it is a plant widely available in that region of the world. You might recognize fennel for its bulb shape and unique flavor (not quite an onion, not quite a celery stalk, smells kind of like black licorice…). According to cookbook author, chef and NYtimes.com recipes contributor Martha Rose Shulman, fennel is a must-try ingredient in healthy, flavorful cooking. It is “an aromatic, low-calorie source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium and folate. Fennel also contains phytonutrients that may have antioxidant properties, including rutin, quercitin, various kaempferol glycosides and anethole, also an anti-inflammatory.” Fennel is amazing when consumed raw or cooked, making it very versatile and tasty in a wide range of dishes. Here are 10 fennel recipes you must try now. Trust us, you will quickly fall in love with fennel.
1. Salmon with Fennel It’s no secret that salmon is incredibly good for you thanks to it’s high levels of protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, essential amino acids and vitamins. This recipe takes the healthy baked salmon concept to another level but adding a sautéed fennel filling. The result is a deliciously complex dish with citrus and anise flavors (but don’t worry, it’s actually pretty easy to make).
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2. Roast Chicken with Lemons and Fennel There are few dishes as comforting and satisfying as a perfected roasted chicken. It reminds us of family dinners as a kid and now, as an adult, we love it because the bulk of the cooking time is unattended (so we can focus on the 8 million other items on our to-do list). This, one of our favorite recipes for fennel, is so incredibly simple, which is exactly how we like our roast chicken. But don’t be fooled—simple does not mean boring. This dish is loaded with flavor thanks to the lemon and fennel, and by basting with the pan juices halfway through you will keep the meat perfectly moist.
3. Pizza with Spring Onions and Fennel We told you that you could still eat pizza as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Just don’t go for the greasy pepperoni slice and instead try this tasty recipe that also happens to have some health benefits thanks to the whole wheat dough, fennel topping and minimal cheese.
4. Pea, Lettuce and Fennel Soup We’ve all seen onion and celery in soup recipes, and it’s time to let fennel in on the soup action. This fennel recipe is full of rich flavor (hello it uses butter and shallots) but it’s also packed with nutrients thanks to the fennel and peas. It’s so good you’ll want to devour it but it’s so good for you that you’ll happily serve it to your kids as well.
5. Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad Fennel makes an amazing addition to any salad, and even if you think salad is boring, we’re about to change your mind. This recipe includes caramelized pancetta and fennel (yum), which is balanced nicely with the crisp salad greens and tart red wine vinaigrette. Simple yes, but this dish is anything but basic.
6. Roasted Fennel with Parmesan Roasted veggies is our new favor way to prepare a side dish, mostly because it requires very little effort and it yields maximum results on the flavor scale. This roasted fennel dish is rich without being bad for you, and the parmesan topping adds just the right amount of crunch.
7. Shrimp and Fennel Kebabs Fennel works perfectly in a kebab because it is easily fit onto a skewer and it grills to perfection alongside the shrimp. Plus the saltiness and tart taste of the salsa verde is a nice complement to the anise flavors of the fennel.
8. Baked Penne with Fennel We love a good baked ziti, and we recently dissevered that it’s a wonderful way to sneak some extra veggies and nutrients into your daily diet. This dish looks like your traditional baked pasta, but there is sautéed fennel hiding in the sauce. PS – there’s also pancetta and cream, which is probably why it tastes so amazing.
9. Fennel and Blood Orange Salad The tart flavor of the blood orange is perfectly matched by the raw, slightly sweet fennel. And the entire salad is very well balanced thanks to the crunch of the hazelnuts and the coolness of the mint. Say hello to our favorite new winter salad (that happens to taste amazing year-round), and one of our favorite recipes for fennel to date.
10. Couscous with Roasted Fennel and Toasted Almonds Looking for a side dish that is as beautiful as it is delicious? Look no further. This fennel recipe with couscous is way more exciting than basic rice or roasted potatoes. It is complex thanks to the mix of flavors—sweet plump raisins, tart orange juice, nutty almonds, spicy fennel—but simple in preparation.
Photos 4 & 5 courtesy of Food Network.com