I think fennel is one of the most underrated vegetables there is. It's got different textures in the one vegetable and it's so flavoursome on its own that it doesn't need much to create a tasty dish.
Believe it or not, fennel is part of the carrot family and has a distinct aniseed flavour.
It’s native to the Mediterranean and was introduced to Aotearoa by early Pākehā settlers. It’s now often found growing in the wild in dry soil coastal areas, such as along the Paekākāriki Escarpment Track.
The feathery leaves, bulb and seeds are all edible, making it a herb, vegetable and spice. You get to enjoy the same punchy flavour through three very different textures.
August is the end of the fennel season, so get in while you still can, or we’ll start to see them again from March.
Store Fennel in the vegetable bin in your fridge.
Check out our simple, yet tasty roasted fennel recipe below. This is perfect as a hero dish or a side.
1-2 bulbs of fennel (depending on size and servings)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
½ teaspoon of chili flakes
1 lemon, both rind and juice
1 ball of fresh mozzarella (or for a vegan option I like Savour's Cotta)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Slice the fennel bulb, keeping the leaves aside. Lay the bulb pieces on a baking tray and add olive oil, sliced garlic, chili flakes and season with salt and pepper.
Roast on 180°c until it starts to go brown on the edges, be careful not to let it burn.
Once cooked, move to a serving dish, keeping the oil with it. Quickly tear over the mozzarella so it starts to melt. Grate the rind from the lemon, squeeze over fresh lemon juice, then top with the rind and the chopped-up fennel leaves.