I love fennel raw or cooked. The aniseed flavour is intense in the raw bulb, but cooking makes for a more delicate flavour with added sweetness.
Fennel is a great addition to salads, providing you slice it very thinly with a mandolin or speed peeler. Simply dress with a little olive oil and lemon juice, and season.
Fennel, rocket, watercress and pear salad
Make a vinaigrette from 1tbsp wholegrain mustard, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1tbsp honey, 1tbsp lemon juce and 4tbsp olive oil. Put the whole lot in a screw top jar and shake.
Cut the fennel into very thin slices and arrange on a plate with a combination of rocket and watercress leaves and thinly sliced pear. Pour over the dressing and serve.
The simplest way to cook fennel. Quarter your fennel bulbs and boil for 6-7 minutes in salted water. Serve with a little butter and some chopped parsley.
Cut 2-3 fennel bulbs into quarters lengthways. Saute the fennel in olive oil in an oven-proof pan till it's golden on all sides. Add a couple of cloves of garlic, chopped, and a few sprigs of rosemary. Mix together and season and braise in a preheated oven at 180C for 45 minutes to an hour. Stir every now and again to lubricate with the oil. Serve with a squeeze of lemon. Wonderful with roast chicken.
Take a bulb or two and slice lengthways into 1cm wide strips. Coat with a little olive oil and cook on a ridged griddle pan until tender. Dress with a little more olive and lemon juice. Sprinkle over some finely chopped mint and chilli, and serve.