Part of what I love about getting a weekly box of organic produce from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm is that it forces me to cook with vegetables that are in season, meaning that they are grown locally, taste better and are fresher than those in the grocery store.
The fennel bulb, stalks, leaves and seeds are all edible. If you don’t have access to a CSA or farmers market, you can buy fennel in the grocery store for around $2.00-$2.50 a bulb (in California expensive prices — yours might be cheaper!) depending on the size, and it’s readily available in autumn through early spring.
When I got fennel in my weekly farm share haul, I wasn’t sure what to do with the licorice-scented bulb. Fortunately I had also recently come across this book at the library used bookstore for $3.
It’s Vegetarian Planet: 350 Big-Flavor Recipes for Out-Of-This-World Food Every Day by chef Didi Emmons, and even as a non-vegetarian I love it! I spent one evening by the fire marking all the recipes I want to try and I flagged much of the book! (On a fennel note though, I do feel the need to disclose that the Carrot Fennel Soup recipe in the book was not a hit — it had nice orange color and was flavorful but the strong fennel taste was not a favorite in my family. I found I enjoyed the leftover soup served cold better than hot.)
Quick Vegetable Stock Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
1 fennel bulb
1 large onion
8 garlic cloves
10 cups water
Roughly chop the carrots, tomato, fennel bulb (if you wish you can chop the whole thing — bulb, stalks and leaves) and onion. Crush or mince the garlic. Put the vegetables in a stock pot with the water, bring it all to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the vegetables out and you should have about 8 cups of vegetable stock. Vegetable stock freezes well. What I don’t use right away I like to store in portions of 2 cups each in the freezer. I find that fresh vegetable stock is easy to make and less expensive than store-bought (especially this quick version — Vegetarian Planet also has a recipe for Basic Vegetable Stock that takes a little longer and requires more ingredients).