I love fennel but I’m not sure what to look for at the supermarket. Help!
Fennel is a miraculous vegetable. It can be crisp and refreshing when shaved raw into a salad, or deeply sweet-savory when roasted in the oven. And it’s got that beautiful, licorice-y anise flavor that creates a lovely complexity in dishes such as Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Fennel, and Figs.
But my supermarket doesn’t always have the best selection of fennel, and I’ve learned the hard way that if you get a bum bulb, your dinner can go south fast.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for fennel: firm, creamy-white bulbs with minimal discoloration (a little bit is OK—you’ll just remove those parts at home), and strong, healthy stalks with plenty of feathery fronds.
Be sure to leave the bulb whole until it’s time to cook with it. If you slice it up before you store it, you’ll risk compromising its flavor and texture. A whole bulb of fennel, with its stalks still attached, will last about a week in an open plastic produce bag in the crisping drawer of your refrigerator.
Our newest cookbook, Vegetables Illustrated, contains tips and recipes for fennel and for dozens of other vegetables. Inside, you’ll find shopping and prep tips, new and classic ideas, and over 700 extensively tested recipes. Not all of the recipes are vegetarian, but they all showcase vegetables in their best light. Honestly, it’s an amazing achievement, and I’m not just saying that because I work here. This book is a stunner.