Seven ways with fennel

Crisp, fresh and with a light liquorice flavour, fennel is one of the most delicious and versatile veg around. Don’t be put off by its odd-looking white bulb or frilly dill-like fronds, here are seven clever ways to use fennel.

  1. Steam it

    Keep fennel moist and fragrant by trapping all its delicious flavour in an oven-baked parcel. This salmon and rice parcel is the perfect example of an easy supper – the sliced fennel adds a hint of aniseed flavour to the fish and rice as it all steams together in the oven.

  2. Griddle it

    Barbecuing isn't just for meat. You can add a smoky intensity to sweet, fragrant fennel by cooking it on a grill or griddle pan, making it the perfect veg for summer al fresco dining. Try it with the simple Mediterranean flavours of this barbecued pesto pork; a sunny take on a Sunday roast with charred fennel, courgette and pepper on the side. For a veggie dish or flavour-packed side, this charred sweet potato and fennel recipe is one to try.

  3. Shave it

    Crunchy and slightly sweet with a subtle liquorice-like flavour, fennel is the hero of a salad when thinly shaved. Use a grater or mandolin to shave your fennel, or slice as thinly as possible with a knife. If you’re not using the fennel straight away it will brown, like a cut apple, so add the pieces to a bowl of cold water with lemon juice.  Try it in a sweet-and-savoury fennel and roasted grape platter, colourful fennel, celeriac and pear salad or a fragrant twist on a classic coleslaw. For an an elegant starter, layer it up with a smoked salmon gravadlax.

  4. Pickle it

    Pickled fennel is perfect when coupled with cured fish and meats such as smoked salmon or prosciutto, as the tartness cuts through the richness. Try in this quick fennel and cucumber pickle – a cheat's version that's ready in just 20 minutes.

  5. Roast it

    Much like onions, fennel goes beautifully caramelised around the edges and tender when roasted, making this cooking method an easy way to enjoy it in a variety of dishes. Toss it with juicy tomatoes in this fish traybake, or make it the star of a veggie pearl barley salad as hearty side.

  6. Spice it up

    Dried fennel seeds are a common addition in curry pastes and spice mixes, so it's no surprise that fresh fennel works just as well with strong spices. This fragrant spiced fish and fennel tagine is the perfect place to start, aromatic and warming rather than fiery.

  7. Stew it

    Nothing can beat a hearty stew when you're in need of some comfort food, and fennel is perfect for adding an extra layer of flavour to a classic one pot. The light aniseed flavour works particularly well with chicken, such as in this creamy chicken ragout or this fresh chicken and pancetta stew.