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Recipe: Fennel, the forgotten vege

For many years fennel has often been cast aside in favour of its much more favoured relative, celery. The intense anise-like flavour of fennel makes it rather polarising for some, so much so that they may have never even cooked with it. Often the flavour is associated with liquorice, however fennel is in fact ‘sweet’ anise – which lends it a much more delicate and sweeter flavour.

It’s fantastic in salads, soups, roasts or in dressings – next time you’re thinking of adding celery or bok choy, why not grab fennel instead? The following fennel slaw recipe is amazing throughout the warmer months as a great salad to serve at BBQs or around the outdoor table. A great accompaniment to all your favourite BBQ meats, schnitzels and white fish, the fennel adds a fresh and light flavour in contrast to the protein.

FENNEL SLAW

  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts 
  • 2 apples
  • 1 lemon (half for lemon water and half as a garnish)
  • 1 half white cabbage
  • Handful of chopped chives
  • Handful of hazelnuts
  • ½ cup of Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

Chop the ends off the Brussels sprouts, then very finely dice them and put aside.

Slice the cabbage very thinly and put aside.

Finely slice the apple into thin sticks and submerge in a bowl of lemon water to prevent the apple from going brown.

Chop the bulbs of fennel off the stalks, and then cut in half and slice very thin. The stalks won’t be used in this recipe, but you could use them as you would celery in a soup or as a bed for roast chicken. Keep any fronds for garnishing.

On a medium to high heat, cook the Brussels sprouts and fennel in separate pans, or, if you’re the proud owner of a NEFF induction cooktop, then this is a great opportunity to utilise the BBQ grill plate (as we did). Cook both until they have softened and gone slightly golden in colour. Set aside to cool.

Chop up the hazelnuts into small pieces and pan roast on a medium heat until nicely browned.

Chop the chives into tiny pieces and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix yoghurt, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble all vegetable ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Garnish with the hazelnuts and chives, then fennel fronds.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

FENNEL TIPS

When choosing fennel at the market/supermarket, look for crisp and fully formed bulbs with no soft spots.

The key to this recipe is to slice all the vegetable ingredients paper thin.

Searing the fennel on a grill helps reduce the intense aniseed flavour it can have when raw.

Use lots of nuts to give the slaw texture and crunch.

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